May 16th, 2005


Extra Cocoa, No Cream

The last thirty-odd hours have been remarkably interesting.

There were many good moments. For starters, I saw Theresa. Theresa was the bitter senior my freshman year, a very smart girl who I mainly got to know by watching Buffy and Angel with her and Jag. Aside from television and exec meetings, my strongest memory of Theresa that year was at the General Meeting of Doom (contact me if you're in BSFFA and you don't know what I'm referring to; this should not be forgotten) when she compared the club to the McCarthy administration. That summer, I ran into Theresa at GenCon and found that not only was she less bitter, she was a remarkably cool person. I learned more about her in one hour over lunch than I had that entire year, then dropped out of contact for three years. At any rate, she came by last night (along with Conan and Carolyn) and we spent a few hours in high-quality conversation, first in the lounge then during packing. Theresa, you rock.

Packing was subsequently interrupted by Dessa. Dessa and I have been spending a lot of time together these past few days (apparently her family thinks we're dating) talking about this and that, the future, post-grad, etc. etc. and so forth, and I am reminded, as I always am whenever I talk to Dessa, what an absolutely amazing person she is. Raina has said that Dessa should be an appointed position in BSFFA; if it had any hope of success I might support her. Dessa and I went to the dance where we cha-chaed and waltzed (sorry about your feet). Fey and I tangoed and Lauren and I swung. Then the dance was over, alas.

After dancing I talked with Fey and Liz about Portland. Earlier this year Fey invited me to move out to Portland with her and Liz, but it's also possible I'll go to Charlottesville, VA with Dessa. Rent's about even. Cost of living is slightly cheaper in Virginia. Job opportunities are even. Charlottesville is within weekend distance of Philadelphia and DC, both of which hold people I know and love, while Portland is within weekend distance of Seattle. Neither has a readily obvious gaming culture, though Charlottesville is a college town which may open possibilities. Portland has better martial arts opportunities. I need to get an answer back to Fey in a few days.

Following the residency talk was [i]The Complete Works of William Shakespear: Abridged[/i] in the Smoking Lounge with Jinx, Quady, Dessa, Sarah, Adam, Amy, and Buddha. That show is fucking hilarious. Turn off your computer and go see it. No, don't rent it. Go to London and see it. Right now.

This was followed by sleep, waking up early to do set up and bus tables for graduation breakfast, and going to graduation. The ceremony: rather boring. Seeing people graduate: not so moving. Hanging out with Conan: fucking awesome. Saying goodbye to people: utterly heartbreaking.

(in no particular order)
Other Brian

And I'm barely scratching the surface (appologies to those I missed; this is intended to be a sampling, not a comprehensive list). Graduation was followed by some very long drawn goodbyes, hugs, kisses, tears, and promises.

Then lightning round packing, barely getting my stuff into the storage locker, and managing not to vomit on the way to the airport. The flight was inconsequential. Seeing my parents is good, even seeing my sister is good. At this point there's not a whole lot else to say.

Jungle of Doom people, send your pieces in. Don't slack off in this.

The General Meeting of Doom (TM)

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about the General Meeting of Doom (TM) being forgotten. On the one hand, I do celebrate the passing of said angst and bitterness. On the other hand, you know what they say about those who forget history. So here goes:

My freshman year I was on housing comittee. We had about twenty-five applications, altogether not a bad haul. From this we put together a house. Some people made it, some people didn't. This is what happens when you have twenty-five people vying for twenty rooms. It was a decent house. Maybe it could have been better, maybe not, but that's not the point of the story.

Many of you are too young to recall how housing used to be done. There was no housing comittee, there was only a exec council. This means if someone chose you to be wargaming head because you were really into 40k (because section heads weren't elected back then, they were appointed by their predecessors), then that was considered qualification and responsibility to arrange house. Or if you were elected secretary because you could touchtype at the pace people can speak, that also meant qualification and responsibility to arrange house.

Then there was confidentiality. Housing involves drama. We all know this. You fill out an application that says people you prefer not to live with and refuse not to live with. Now for some reason BSFFAs have a penchant for drama and it was feared that if this information became public, things might blow up. Publiclly. Painfully. It was also feared what would happen if people in the club were to hear how they were weighed and measured against each other. Consequently, housing meetings were closed. The only people who got to know what went on in them was the exec council. They went into the room, and except for calling people in for interviews, no one heard anything about housing (except screams of pain) until it was done some ten to sixteen hours later. After the meeting they were sworn to secrecy about what happened there (one of the results of opening up housing meetings is they don't take as long since more of the comittee knows the process; when over half the people there have never done housing before and can't even ask beforehand how one goes about doing it, things slow down). That is not sarcasm; we actually gave oaths, albeit in a less ritualistic fashion. As a result the housing list was often a bit of a mystery because people had no idea how it came about.

Now, as I said five people did not get in house. Two of these people (Elena and April) happened to be close friends with Gretchen. I like Gretchen, and when she was here considered her a good friend, but Gretchen is a bitch. I mean that in both the reclaimed version and the derogatory version. Gretchen is loud and pushy and bossy when she has an opinion. She talked to numerous people who were on exec and managed to get a very accurate sense of what went on in the meeting that kept Elena and April from being in house. This was as follows:

-Each had enough merit to be in house.
-Each had more merit than some people who got in house (Steve, for example, who despite all he had done for the club since, did nothing high-priority freshman year).
-Each wanted a single.
-Enough people had said "I will not live on the same floor as Elena/April that, except for the lounge, there was nowhere to put them.

Now it is questionable whether either Elena or April had enough merit to warrant a single. If they did, they were at the bottom of the list. But what was very pertinent (especially to Gretchen, Elena, and April) is that the housing policy specifically states under the seciton on prefer not to/will not live with someone, that these answers are not grounds for refusing to put someone in house. That was all the amunition Gretchen needed and she started going on a witch hunt.

Gretchen convinced Nathan, Will, and I (we were all on exec) that we had made the wrong choice with housing. Rather than urge the general body not to pass the housing list or even recanting our approval of the list and calling for exec to do it again, she tried to convince us that A) Sandy was an incompetent, malicious, manipulative president, B) exec council couldn't be trusted, and C) the best solution was to impeach everybody.

I'm embarrassed to say this, but Nathan was the only one of us to strongly argue with Gretchen. In the end, we sat in a computer lab with a copy of the BSFFA constitution and made a list of every member of exec and what they had done that could possibly be considered a constitutional violation. We brought the list to exec and informed them that we were calling for everyone's impeachment... forty-five minutes before that day's general meeting.

The meeting went exactly the way you might expect it to go. People got angry and were brought to tears, often simultaneously. Some people left the room crying. Joe resigned his position as RP head before he even got called. No one was voted out of office, but it caused a /lot/ of bitterness between people. Obviously the housing list didn't pass. An hour later, the big kids (Sandy, Joe, Even, Kate, Jess, and Wendy) announced that they would not be living in tower next year.

April also decided she wouldn't live in house. Elena got put in the lounge, which she promptly took over, and recruitment took a nose dive because no one was spending time in the club's main hang out spot.

So what's the point of the story? What should you take away from all this?

1) Secrets don't help anyone. There were reasons we didn't put Elena and April in the house, reasons besides people not wanting to live with them. If we'd been permitted to share this information with Gretchen, much of what happened might have been preventable. This is why I strongly urged housing comittee this year not to close the meeting as they had considered doing. I'm glad they made the right choice and hope future comittees will.

2) Be nice to each other. We have to live with each other for four years. Don't get Machiavellian just because you can win. The point of the club isn't to run a house and spend a huge budget. The point is to have fun. Don't do things that make it less fun. Trying to get your friends kicked out of offices they accepted because they wanted to help everyone have a good time, is not a recipe for fun. It's a recipe for a lot of emotional pain.

3) The club will be okay. Yes, the move out sucked. Yes, house next year sucked. Yes, the drama sucked, recruitment sucked, Elena sucked, many of the consequences of this drama sucked. And you know what? The club is fine now. Whatever happens to the club (drama, bad housing, a budget cut, getting on res life's bad side, poor recruitment, a gang war with BSU, /whatever/) will pass in time. BSFFA history tends to be remembered for about two and a half to three years (quick! Where was BSFFA before Wood D; I'll give you a prize next semester if you get it right) and then people move on if they haven't already. Each year a quarter of our population changes. Change is good. It's growth.