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Student Government

I was a freshman at Emory University when Bert Lance, a Georgia banker and close confidant of then President Jimmy Carter, came under national scrutiny for questionable banking practices.  Mr. Lance died last week at the age of 82 and while history may judge he got a bum rap back when, Mr. Lance and his well-publicized troubles played a bit role in my collegiate political career.

Let me explain.

A crowded field of young, up-and-coming political types were all jockeying their way to earn one of three spots representing freshman interests on the Emory student government association (SGA), a highly coveted position to influence policies and events on campus while assisting with graduate school admission and perhaps future fame and fortune. To gain name recognition which was the campaign’s most important facet, Emory’s best and brightest littered the campus with professionally produced campaign fliers. If you didn’t know better, you would have thought these people were running for Congress as each 8 1/2 by 11” poster had a more perfect headshot than the next (and this was before desktop publishing made it economically feasible to produce such work).

Your dedicated blogger, who had some concerns about the Emory freshman experience, was out late one night and perhaps after a few too many thought it was silly how seriously the announced candidates were taking this “freshman” election.  With a mind full of mush, your dedicated blogger thought that he could have some fun with this whole thing, perhaps stand out from the crowd and get himself elected.

So with haste and a ballpoint pen, your dedicated blogger whipped up a stick figure self-portrait complete with an “I Love Emory” T-shirt (I Love NY was the advertising rage at that time) to stand in stark contrast to the other candidates’ picture perfect headshots.  Then, with a marker, the rest of my campaign poster came to life, with “Bobby Cramer for SGA”, “Here is my picture” and an earnest, “I will, in all seriousness, appreciate your vote”.  The whole process took about five minutes.

Not bragging here, but the poster was a huge hit.  My name recognition soared, and somehow I qualified for the run-off election where the top nine vote earners competed for three final SGA spots.

Not one to rest on my laurels, I needed to keep the momentum alive for the run-off.  Figuring that humor was always the best bet, I made us some quotes of then prominent people, Bert Lance included, and placed them stand right next to my little hand drawn picture on my new run-off poster:

“He is a real leader!”–Richard Nixon

“He is trustworthy, dependable!”–Bert Lance

“He is so cute!”–Mrs. Cramer

Well, I was elected and went on to serve with some distinction on the SGA, mustering up the courage one night to speak up at a dinner at Emory President James Laney’s house, which resulted in a presidential visit to my Dobbs Hall dorm, an open and frank conversation with my freshman “constituents” and the eventual establishment of a Freshman Council.  I kid you not.

Mr. Lance’s recent passing made me think of this story and that campaign, harkening back to a simpler time, when an aspiring and buzzed college kid could connect with peers, affect positive change and get a little laugh without even using Facebook.



3 Responses to Student Government

  1. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Howie Hoffman says:

    Bob, this is a true folk story, featuring folk (“naieve” art). LOVE IT! In spite of the fact that in high school, I got MY name recognition drawing campaign posters for friends RUNNING for Student Government. (Mine stood out in a different way-how good they looked–but partly because I had more Markers than anybody in the school). As for your results, I’m more pleased than surprised.

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