Excellence and Complacency

April 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Right before spring break, AAA held its elections for executive officer positions. I was excited since my friends were running against one another, and I was eager to see what their speeches would be like. I thought about arriving just a tad late to the meeting [it did start an hour earlier than usual, after all] but decided not to. It would be rude to get there late for no real reason, and I would only be perpetuating the negative stereotype that so many of my friends already buy into [rant about that later].

When I arrived at precisely 6PM, only about 20 other people were there. By the time 6:30 rolled around, another 15 or so people had shown up. The number of people hovered at around 35 for the entire night as people left early and others straggled in late. This was an unexpected problem because the AAA constitution decreed that a majority [2/3rds?] of the active members had to be present in order for elections to occur, which meant over 50 out of 80-something.

Our president was not amused. The tension in the front of the room was ostensible as the current EOs and the candidates gathered to discuss the problem. There was an announcement made that the candidates would exit the room to deliberated whether or not to proceed with the elections. Shortly afterwards, they returned, having decided to go forth with voting.

It was disappointing to see how little the members cared about the elections. I for one was rather excited to be a part of the process, especially since a handful of my friends were running for positions. I figured, though, that at least the few people who were present were the ones who REALLY cared, and so our votes would count for more.

I was more or less pleased with the results, although for a few minutes I was afraid that the entire group of newly-elected EOs would be male. I thought KL was a good choice for a president because he seemed invested in abstracts — legacy, the future, etc., instead of just present duties of overseeing the association. He seemed to be wiser, and I hoped that his interest in spreading APIA awareness would succeed.

The next day, I had lunch with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. These were friends who are paid members of AAA who did not attend the elections the previous evening, and they were not shy about discussing the reasons for their absences.

BB cited an example from a recent banquet. Apparently an alum of AAA gave a presentation on the numerous and effective APIA-awareness activities in which he had led the organization while he was an EO. And during this speech, the current EOs were on the side cobbling together their own PowerPoint, their only accomplishment being the establishment of the big/lil program. I don’t know the veracity of this story, but BB and LJ were resolute in their view that under current administration, AAA has declined in the quality of spreading APIA awareness on campus, and they are not the only ones who feel this way.

Seeing AAA from both sides was an interesting conundrum. I have always viewed the organization as more of a social group — I like having Asian-American friends, some people like the parties, etc. But the group can only do as much as its members want to do. Since joining AAA last year, I haven’t really seen a yearning for APIA awareness among the members. I don’t hold it against the EOs, although those in power certainly have more influence than the normal person. That’s just the way it is — now that we are an established group with almost 100 members, it’s easy to become complacent in some areas.

Is it helpful for members on the fringe of the organization to absent themselves from elections? Probably not. If they wanted to make a difference, they could run for office instead, or at least voice their concerns in a more public forum. Anyhow, our president-elect expressed his willingness to hear out the viewpoints of all members, so we’ll have to wait and see how next year’s administration fares.

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