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April 1, 2008 10:27 AM   Subscribe

"In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue—that is why academic politics are so bitter." The Michigan Federation of College Republicans deals with back-biting, bribery, barratry and small stakes.

The quote, often wrongly attributed to Kissinger, comes from Wallace S. Sayre.
posted by klangklangston (33 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
You promised barratry. Where's the barratry? (This is some kind of April Fool's prank isn't it?)
posted by grobstein at 10:49 AM on April 1, 2008


The barratry is the repeated threats of litigation over splintering the U of M College Republicans.
posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on April 1, 2008


Barratry! I have learned a new word... Ooh! McCainiac. Two new words!

Google google wha ??? Looks like the College Republicans aren't the only ones to have ..er... struggled with this kid.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 11:09 AM on April 1, 2008


Nitpick: I have always heard the cited quotation used in reference to the political infighting between academics as a result of their disagreements over scholarly minutiae - which seems to me to be something rather different from this story, which is about college students engaged in presidential politics.

Still, an interesting post. Thanks.
posted by googly at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2008


He will soon serve a summer internship with Carl Rove
posted by Postroad at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2008


Is he related to Karl Rove?
posted by crazy finger at 11:15 AM on April 1, 2008


Well, at least they're not facing champetry and maintenance. Blackstone would have to choke a bitch!
posted by nasreddin at 11:19 AM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Previous post on Justin Zatkoff.
posted by ericb at 11:21 AM on April 1, 2008




Google google wha ??? Looks like the College Republicans aren't the only ones to have ..er... struggled with this kid.

From the first page of the FPP's linked article (and covered in the previous MeFi thread about Zatkoff):
"Zatkoff arrived as a student in Ann Arbor on the heels of a national controversy, in which he claimed injuries sustained in a September 2006 assault were the result of attacks by 'liberal thugs' from the pro-affirmative action group BAMN. Ann Arbor Police later said the injuries were a result of a fight with Zatkoff's friends."
posted by ericb at 11:27 AM on April 1, 2008


Backpfeifengesicht: (Ger.) A face that cries out for a fist in it.

That's all I have to say about this guy.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:35 AM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oops. Apparently I missed that.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 11:41 AM on April 1, 2008


The College Republicans at my university, or at least the few who receive press, are absofuckinglutely retarded. They tried to raise money to buy handguns for women to end domestic violence, they had a "White Heterosexual American Male" scholarship (satirizing affirmative action), and sponsored an "Islamic fascism awareness week." They apparently "support" Hillary Clinton (that's Chairman Ryan Bilodeau on the right in the hat, and his lackey Christian Slater on the left).

It's... not comforting... perhaps "interesting" to see that my university isn't exactly alone.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:59 AM on April 1, 2008


The phrase I usually quote is "student politics is so bitter because the stakes are so low", which may well be a misquote but is snappier.
posted by athenian at 12:02 PM on April 1, 2008


The guy looks and sounds like a real jatk off.
posted by papakwanz at 12:25 PM on April 1, 2008


He'll have a great future as a lawyer or Republican cabinet lackey -- worry not, Metafilter!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:32 PM on April 1, 2008


CitrusFreak12: That's funny. At my college, the college republicans are so marginalized that the best they can do is discourage voter registration and point out how shrill the campus dems are.
posted by dismas at 12:35 PM on April 1, 2008


The book Conservatize Me has a great section on the dirty tricks College Republicans pull on each other to grab power (and how Karl Rove did the same when he was a College Republican).
posted by drezdn at 12:37 PM on April 1, 2008


Academic politics is stuff like infighting over departmental policy, promotion and tenure disputes, and the angry mutterings about the new dean who keeps overriding committee recommendations for no good reason anyone can see other than the sinister agenda she's suspected to have. I suspect that these politics can be rather bitter because faculty are self-selected to be strong-willed people, and also because they're relatively self-governed and very much enjoy that. Plus many of them resent every minute spent in a committee meeting. So the more drawn out some conflict becomes, the crankier people will get.

This is just politics carried out by college students against an academic backdrop. It's not really all that academic.
posted by Tehanu at 1:06 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I also call "bullshit" on the quote introducing this post. This is not an academic squabble. This is Republican politics. Most College Republican "leaders" have so little interest in academics that it's comical -- they're only there to build their résumés and their political connections.

And neither is it trivial. These fights, low down and dirty as they may be, are the way the future leadership of one of the two political parties that run this country is determined. (Karl Rove got started as a College Republican, and look where he got us.) Zatkoff isn't a joke, he potentially the future of the Republican party.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 1:15 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was making fun of academic politics a little there. But it isn't trivial, either. Committee meetings are no one's idea of a good time, but the people I know who are good at them and who make positive changes at their institutions tend to also hate the meetings themselves. They're often made to endure tedious practices of others when they just want to make sure grad students get decent health insurance options, that teaching carries decent weight in tenure reviews, etc.
posted by Tehanu at 1:23 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


This FPP is probably of critical importance to members of collegiate political organizations - Republican and Democrat alike - throughout the greater Ann Arbor area. Perhaps even all of southeastern Michigan.
posted by Slap Factory at 3:56 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with Tehanu. I never liked that quote, speaking as an academic. The stakes are plenty high a lot of the time in my world -- the futures of particular students not the least among them when you are handing out graduate full ride fellowships (street value close to a quarter million dollars over 5 or 6 years) or pitching alumni for millions in endowment money, etc. Indeed, I see more penny pinching pettiness in the corporate world, where productivity is directly measured in dollars. And I see politics in the corporate (and actual political) worlds as worse in many ways than in my academic universe, where people mostly have goodwill, civility, and a sense that others have interests too. There are assholes in academia, but everywhere else too. (Heck, I can be one of them.) My university is currently in the midst of a 4 billion dollar capital campaign, and has an endowment several times that. Students and their parents can pay 300-350,000 to attend as an undergrad; pretty high stakes to teach students paying $100-200 a class session for the privilege of hearing you talk.

In other words, I see your low stakes and raise you plenty.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:59 PM on April 1, 2008


That said, it's always a good day to see Republicans at each others' throats.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:00 PM on April 1, 2008


"And I see politics in the corporate (and actual political) worlds as worse in many ways than in my academic universe, where people mostly have goodwill, civility, and a sense that others have interests too."

As someone who taught on a college campus for 3 years then left for the corporate world, I have to disagree. Politics at the college were flat out brutal. Politics at the corporate level can be too. The difference?

The main driving factor in the corporate world is results and profit. These things are not nearly as important in the world of academic politics, and rightly so! But, it was refreshing to be judged by the actual value I brought to my company instead of all the 'who you know, who you blow' bullshit in the academic world.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:06 PM on April 1, 2008


Wow, a Republican being a dick. That's news.

(And, anyone who trusts a college student that wears a fucking suit voluntarily, gets what they deserve.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:07 PM on April 1, 2008


McCainiac.

Please tell me someone has made a cartoon music video. Please please please.
posted by Tehanu at 4:20 PM on April 1, 2008


"I also call "bullshit" on the quote introducing this post. This is not an academic squabble. This is Republican politics. Most College Republican "leaders" have so little interest in academics that it's comical -- they're only there to build their résumés and their political connections."

Call it all you like—the point of the quote was to highlight the bitter infighting in an area where, despite your protestations to the contrary, the stakes are trivial.

I found the story interesting and well-researched in a way that I don't think the left does very often, at least in terms of viciously fisking themselves.

And complaints that this only really matters in Ann Arbor seem to me born of too much national newsfilter. The reason that it's interesting is because of the writing, and all of the little tit-for-tat bits that go on.
posted by klangklangston at 4:42 PM on April 1, 2008


A Young Republican whose debut on the public stage was as a liar. That's news.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 5:11 PM on April 1, 2008


Wow, homunculus...that "Chickenhawk" vid was painful to watch.

I got dumbchills watching the lads squirm trying to rationalize how passionate they were for the war and how they, nonetheless, should be excused from going to serve in it.
posted by darkstar at 9:58 PM on April 1, 2008


The main driving factor in the corporate world is results and profit.

Aside from "profit," which is an abstraction, "results" are the coin of the realm in academia too. You publish, you succeed. Someone sounds a little bitter about it all upthread.

I've worked a dozen different jobs on my way to the professoriate. None of them was any more petty or any less political once inside the structure. But when what's at stake is money rather than ideas, or money rather than people's lives, then the "stakes" seem petty to me.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:05 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The main driving factor in the corporate world is results and profit. These things are not nearly as important in the world of academic politics, and rightly so!

This is wrong. As fourcheesemac notes, results are what advances your career. Results are what gets you promoted. Results are what gets you that bigger, better job offer.

And in many lab sciences, "profit" is also highly important. If you don't bring in more grants than you cost the university, expect bad things.

But, it was refreshing to be judged by the actual value I brought to my company instead of all the 'who you know, who you blow' bullshit in the academic world.

So all that talk people get about networking in the corporate world is wrong, because who you know doesn't matter? Interesting.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:28 AM on April 2, 2008


"So all that talk people get about networking in the corporate world is wrong, because who you know doesn't matter? Interesting."

I realize that both have similar environments, but from my experience, a bad year for enrollment and money didn't mean much in terms of yearly evaluation. Nor did how great a teacher you were (publish or perish as its said). Yet at the corporation, a bad year in terms of earnings means bad year for me. If I contribute a huge project that earns the company money, then I get a bigger bonus. Yes, who you know is important, but in some ways things are refreshingly clear cut.
posted by UseyurBrain at 1:29 PM on April 2, 2008


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