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The Poison Ivy League Part 15-The Election of the New Team President

May 3, 2011

By this time, Scipio’s administration was drawing to a close. There were two final pieces of legislation. First, he agreed to make the office of VP Tournament Director the second position up for grabs at elections rather than the VP Comp (Novice Education) Director. There was really no good reason for this change beyond a nod to Fabius’s vanity over Cynthia vis a vis the prestige of their positions. Next, he created two new Vice-Presidential positions and eliminated the position of Treasurer. Now, there would be a Vice-President of Finances and a Vice-President of Operations, aka the Secretary. All four VPs would be equal in status as a nod to the large number of competitive people in Kimel’s class—Sulla A, Sulla B, Jason, Josephus, Aemilia, Rufus, and Porus, to name only the most active.

We’ve now come to a turning point in the story, the 2003 election. With the benefit of hindsight, it is difficult to say why the competition meant so much to Kimel. Whatever the results of what amounted to an intra-team popularity contest, he was then the most successful debater of his class. No one broke more than he did with a greater variety of partners—literally a different person every week, including two novices. Ultimately, something about Sulla A’s self-image and the favoritism shown to him by senior members on the team inspired a deeply competitive instinct in him. Certainly, competition with Sulla was the main reason that Kimel attended tournaments virtually every weekend (he almost never missed them), and why he submitted himself to doing grunt work on the team, not only at the Harvard tournament, but long afterward, like when he personally dragged cartloads of T-shirts from the factory to his bedroom, storing them for a (failed) fundraising effort.

However, naïveté proved a detriment to Kimel’s plans, not only in his adoration of Agrippina (any happiness he found in debate he still ascribed to her influence), but in his belief that the sheer volume of his work could actually win him the election. As a Roman history enthusiast, he should have realized that politics wins elections, not self-sacrifice. When it came to politics, Sulla A excelled. He held private interviews with almost everyone on the team, requesting their candid advice and, rumor had it, lyingly promising to support all of them in their own election plans. He even brought his roommate to vote on election day. (In fairness, this roommate did complete the basic comp requirements to be on the team). In fact, Sulla A was not universally popular, and there were some upperclassmen who did not want to see him elected. What makes matters worse, though, is that Kimel eventually found out that he wasn’t even in second place for the position in the mind’s eye of the team, for Fabius had recently taken to Jason and decided to undermine Sulla A’s chances by supporting him for office.

The night of the election, Sulla A typed out his resume’ and handed it out like a ditto in primary school, waxing lyrically about the advantages of selecting him. He was the most famous debater of the class, he said, whom more people on APDA knew than anyone else. Moreover, he was an original Member at Large, while others running for office were appointed to the position unilaterally afterwards. None of these details had anything to do with being an effective captain, particularly since Sulla might have been well-known on APDA, but in those days it was for running tight cases, a reputation that would be difficult for him to shake off.

Kimel’s speech was short and sincere, the best among the candidates. But nothing that either Sulla, Jason, Josephus, or he said amounted to much of a difference. What mattered was the roasting that took place when they all left the room to allow the voters to weigh their merits. They waited in the hallway for what felt like an hour. Then, they returned and heard the announcement. Sulla A was the new President. Kimel clapped for him as genuinely as he could.

Thanks to the Fabius, the next position up for grabs was VP Tournament Director. Kimel ran against Rufus and Jason. Pallas, the only senior to regularly debate, asked them if they would favor well-known teams at the competition by ensuring good-judging for them. To the candidates’ credit, they all said no, though this is in effect what always happens. Again they waited in the hallway, again for a long time. Then they were readmitted to the room. Jason was the Tournament Director. Kimel clapped again, with greater enthusiasm this time. He went on to win the VP Comp Director election after a comparably short wait in the hallway. His most formidable competition was Sulla B, who was perhaps better suited to the role than Kimel was, who had trouble remembering the names of new acquaintances. Next, Porus won the VP Finances election.

The final position available was VP Operations. Sulla B lost the election to Aemilia on a close decision. The chief argument of Scipio and several upperclassmen was that it would be a mistake to completely exclude females from the Board. Kimel wondered, though, if making a girl the Secretary, of all positions, was sending a much more progressive message. Whatever the case, Aemilia was a practical, sweet-natured person who could, it was hoped, balance out the larger than life personalities of the other office-holders with her level-headedness. Sulla B, Rufus, and Josephus were shut out completely.

Although Kimel was disappointed to lose the Presidency, he took the election in good part and was happy enough with his position as Comp Director. At Nationals, however, everything was about to unravel.

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