Monday, February 25, 2008

The End Times

College Christian coup kaput

When last we left the bold Christian insurrectionists who seized the student government at American River College in Sacramento, the religious bloc had lost its majority on the student council because three of its members were deemed ineligible. As noted in my previous post, they had failed to maintain the necessary grade-point average or unit load required for qualification for student government.

As the inimitable Porlock Junior observed on that occasion: “Reactionary political activist Christianists can't maintain a C average! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!!” That appears to be correct. What's more, they don't know Robert's Rules of Order and have nothing approaching the patience of Job. Almost all of them have resigned their posts and decamped in a snit. The new developments were reported in the February 20 edition of the ARC student newspaper, the American River Current:
SA members resign en masse

By Amber Sellnow
Staff Writer

Since five student representatives have resigned from Student Association, the council is no closer to filling seats than it was last week.

Within an hour and a half before the SA meeting on Feb. 12, the five submitted identical resignation letters—Alexander Cojan, Valeriy Dorn, Brandon Garcia, Daniel Karavan and Sergey Linnik. In the duplicated letter, they stated their disagreement with the president and felt that he is unethical because he “deceitfully denied the right of one of the Student Representatives to vote on overriding the special election.”

During the vote to override the elections to appoint three previous vacancies, Garcia voluntarily took chair, and according to Robert's Rule[s] of Order the chair is unable to vote unless there is a tie. But perhaps he assumed he was able to vote. Garcia also stated in his application for student representative, that he was “familiar with governing documents, such as a constitution and by-laws...”
I think we can safely conclude that candidate Garcia overestimated his knowledge.
There was a disagreement on the Feb. 19 meeting on whether or not the resignations were accepted prompting open vacancies. Student representatives submitted their resignations hours before the Feb. 12 meeting, the renouncements were not posted on the agenda.

Other than the five disbanding from council, and the argument on whether or not their resignation was accepted, there is a bigger dilemma. Was the vote from the Feb. 5 meeting (approval for the president to appoint three to council) still valid?

On the Feb. 19 meeting, Director of Public Relations, David Fisher, announced the qualified candidates [for?] the election committee. It consisted of election chair/Vice President of SA John Throm, Director of PR David Fisher, and two reps, Tanya Garcia and Yuriy Popko. The seven members available, the council approved three students the president appointed in a closed meeting on Feb. 14. Saba Siddiqui, Rachid Frihi, and Anthony Todd. Frihi was the only appointed member to actually show up to await approval of the council.

So what is to become of the five vacancies?

According to the bylaws, if there are four or less representative positions open, the council is able to override a special election. Even if the SA president is able to appoint three positions, an election will still have to take place, but that won't be known until next week.

Due to time constraints, the meeting was adjourned, and the rest of the meeting (including the reading of resignations/declaring vacancies, and filling of the remaining seats) has been tabled to the next meeting.
It all sounds pretty confusing, the confusion enhanced by the garbled reporting of the school newspaper. My friend “Steve,” an ARC faculty member who has served on occasion as my man-on-the-scene, thinks we have yet to hear the end of this story. It's widely believed that the extremist Christian bloc is regrouping for a campaign to retake the student association in the semester-end elections. Perhaps so, but this time they won't be able to run a stealth campaign. Their antics have attracted attention and their fumblings suggest they are not invincible. (Is God really on their side?)

In the meantime, I was tipped off by an anonymous ARC student who visited this blog and posted the URL of a website devoted to monitoring the activities of the college's right-wing Christian activists. If you're curious, go to and check it out. (Click on the red pill icon to get past the silly opening screen.) Is it truly the end, or merely the lull before the storm?


My ARC insider has provided me with some of the details concerning the meltdown of the Christian bloc in the college's student association. The right-wing student senators were, quite simply, suckered by an unsympathetic student body president. The president wanted to fill recent vacancies on the student senate by appointment rather than a special election, but that takes a two-thirds vote of the remaining senators. The president thought he had a majority, but probably not quite two thirds. He suspected the Christian bloc would oppose letting him name the replacements for their disqualified members. Therefore he made a seemingly generous offer to let one of them chair the meeting, a ploy they fell for. When the motion to allow appointment of replacement senators came up, the president voted in favor. When it came time for the no votes, the presiding senator attempted to vote, whereupon the president reminded him—informed him is more like it—that the presiding officer has no vote. Having been snookered into sacrificing one of their votes (and allowing the president to have a vote he normally would not have, clinching the two-thirds requirement), the extremist Christian bloc was infuriated. Their mass resignation followed.

It's not the end of the story.


Unknown said...


I wonder if ARC has openings in the English department.

apthorpe said...

This warms the cockles of my ex-student senate heart. There was no love lost when we deposed the frothing lefties and frat rats and I considered it a good thing when our student government was dissolved a few years after I had graduated. All the sane power was in the shared governance positions on university committees anyways, and those didn't disappear.

While my two terms in student government cemented my disdain for the legislature I learned the value of rules of order, of procedure, and of bylaws in making a contentious group functional. The experience helped me in industry, in serving on the board of one non-profit, and working to form another.

FWIW, Sturgis' Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure is far superior to Robert's Rules of Order despite Will Eisner's illustrations in the paperback version of the latter. Sturgis stripped out a lot of the archaic nineteenth-century junk from Robert's and left a streamlined, sensible core.

It just goes to show you how religious zealots turn into the loudest crybabies when hoised on the petard of their own hubris and ignorance. Good riddance.

Porlock Junior said...

So they got snookered by some unbeliever because they hadn't bothered to learn the rules that applied to the organization they were trying to take over.

So they hadn't even paid attention to the Gospel:

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Luke 16:8

(Dorothy L. Syayers, the mystery writer and Christian apologist, loved this parable.)

The Ridger, FCD said...

Here is the usage advice at MWCDEU on less/fewer:

Here is the rule as it is usually encountered: fewer refers to number among things that are counted, and less refers to quantity or amount among things that are measured. This rule is simple enough and easy enough to follow. It has only one fault -- it is not accurate for all usage. If we were to write the rule from the observation of actual usage, it would be the same for fewer: fewer does refer to number among things that are counted. However, it would be different for less: less refers to quantity or amount among things that are measured and to number among things that are counted. Our amended rule describes the actual usage of the past thousand years or so.

As far as we have been able to discover, the received rule originated in 1770 as a comment on less:

This Word is most commonly used in speaking of a Number; where I shoudl think Fewer would do better. No Fewer than a Hundred appears to me not only more elegant than No less than a Hundred, but strictly proper. --Baker 1770

Baker's remarks about fewer express clearly and modestly -- "I should think," "appears to me" -- his own taste and preference. [...]

How Baker's opinion came to be an inviolable rule, we do not know. But we do know that many people believe it is such. Simon 1980, for instance, calls the "less than 50,000 words" he found in a book about Joseph Conrad a "whopping" error.

The OED shows that less has been used of countables since the time of King Alfred the Great -- he used it that way in one of his own translations from Latin -- more than a thousand years ago (in about 888). So essentially less has been used of countables in English for just about as long as there has been a written English language. After about 900 years Robert Baker opined that fewer might be more elegant and proper. Almost every usage writer since Baker has followed Baker's lead, and generations of English teachers have swelled the chorus. The result seems to be a fairly large number of people who now believe less used of countables to be wrong, though its standardness is easily demonstrated.

flagedgefray said...

Brainslug: All condescending and baseless word rage aside, you should read this. Cliff's notes: "x or less" is a perfectly fine and well-established usage, and is also considered less stilted and more natural than "x or fewer"; don't just repeat everything you've heard from a pedant; most pedants have no idea what they're talking about; try a reputable dictionary instead.