Excerpt for revolution in student society: A recounting of the abolition of the president role from within a student society by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

revolution in student society:
A recounting of the abolition of the president role from within a student society.

A Zine By: Mila McKay

Jan, 2019

There was once a student society that had two presidents, for reasons I never learned and don’t care to inquire about a problematic previous presidency resulted in the creation of a dual power seat within this somewhat radical studsent organization. But some say that power corrupts when it doesn’t attract the corrupted. I witnessed that corruption.

But what is corruption? My society presidents achieved great things, and both are still my friends. They didn’t embezzle money, they didn’t force anyone to do anything against their will; a student society would struggle to find that much power in the president’s seat. But somehow, I still witnessed the pressure of the position result in the breaking of friendships and hurt feelings.

Hopefully, reader, you and I can agree that feelings matter. We can’t always trust our gut, but we do have to take care of it and to do so I feel like recognizing and respecting the emotions we hold inside of us is essential. But what emotions lead to corruption?

Obviously, greed or envy can lead to corruption. But I don’t think either of those were the primary forces at play with my friends. They seemed to have the best interest of every student in mind, and the weight of that responsibility on their shoulders. It’s easy to ignore when we take on to much, I know I’ve done it. But when we have a title like president, can we offload even if we do recognize the weight?

One of the problems I have seen several times now is people, that I know, in positions of power failing to keep their emotional connections in tact. Weather that power is from being elected, appointed, or given it, people react as if the finger is always pointed at them. Maybe stress and fear are the true sources of corruption for these people? Expectations of fingers pointing to the person with the title make sense in a society that gives power to singular individuals.

So I thought about what alternatives might exist. I don’t claim to have the perfect answer, I don’t think there is a perfect answer. But I feel like, when the problems disrupt our community, we must envision an ends so that a means can be found that can reach it. without a destination you just wander.

I channeled the writings of Marx and Kropotkin, the documentary works of sub media, and various anarchist philosophers and ideologues. I knew that not everyone agreed with socialism and anarchism as I did, but the ideologies in anarchism are not anarchists alone. The theories and ideologies that make up the spectrum of socialist politics have been around since long before works such as the Communist Manifesto, Mutual Aid, or God and the State.

So I decided to present the idea, to change the societies power structure from one of a top down nature, to one of a horizontal nature. The student society would still have a governing body, but it would not function with a singular figure head. How exactly the details would shape up I felt should be in the hands of all the society members.

I ran for co-president alongside a friend, openly declaring that my role in the position would be to abolish it. I was approaching this situation from a stance I wouldn’t normally advocate for. Changing the institution from the inside. But the context of the situation matters.

A student society doesn’t have the layers of systemic force keeping it together. I wasn’t presenting to the country, I was addressing peers. I felt confident that this was the best approach. And I got elected.

In my one semester as co-president I helped, as my position required, to run the society. But with each meeting I made it clear that the re-writing of the constitution was on the table. Eventually we had everyone sit down and go over the document of less than a half dozen pages. We collectively discussed each line and rewrote a new constitution. This one had a few new rolls, and no president or co-president.

The society had collectively come to agreement on a horizontal structure that they felt comfortable with. And my seat of power was gone. It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life. Nothing is accomplished single handily, I didn’t achieve that change alone. And that’s the best part.

How can this translate to bigger picture struggles? I think we first have to realize that the reason this was successful was because everyone involved could be on the same page. With larger institutions we could theoretically use something like the internet to ensure true democratic participation takes place, but for now the governments of the world don’t appear interested in that system. So what is this insight worth?

I think we can see in this the strength of local organization, The flexibility of grass roots collectives and co-ops, or maybe that we can use consensus to achieve common goals. I would point out that I am proof that taking a roll of power does not require one to become corrupt, but that I was very aware and critical of the position the entire time; I did not run because I wanted the position, I loathed it.

I think stories like this are important to share. There’s a full concept that was envisioned, executed, and accomplished. Though this example is simple, it can be referenced and picked apart and analyzed by anyone who might find themselves in a situation the mimics some aspects of this story.

Thank you for reading.


You can find all of my work on smashwords as well as my other social media under the username @futureblot

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