It’s been a tough year for the Boston College administration. You can tell because people are actually talking about “the BC administration.” There’s been a sharp upswing in the use of the term “student’s rights,” and not just by the habitual gripers like this author. Now honest-to-goodness real people are doing the griping, which should be the greatest indicator that the BC administration isn’t running the show properly. This campus has been thunderously apathetic for my three and a half years here, but now increasing swaths of the student body are incensed about basically nothing? Something’s wrong.
Worse yet is that the administration has responded terribly to this threat to their authority. The recent alleged forcing out of UGBC vice president Chris Marchese is only the most high-profile of the serious whiffs BC has made in playing the political game. But, in the spirit of the holidays, we as the student body should give back to the administration, if only to level the playing field as they try to seem authoritative for 2015. So I asked several of history’s top despots and dictators for some advice as to how the BC administrators can better consolidate their power.
Nero, Roman Empire, 54-68:
How did you allow it to come to this? The lower castes aren’t supposed to have the will to protest. Bread and circuses, it’s always been that simple. You could burn half of Rome to the ground at the age of 28, and they’d still let you rule so long as you kept their basest whims in check. Just stop overcharging for pizza and Odwalla and turning campus into a food desert, and the protests will lose half their steam right there. Hungry stomachs growl loudest, full bellies march slowest.
And what about that actual Coliseum you have? You must be staging elaborate sea battles, cramming as much of the rabble into the stands as possible to keep them busy. This “Gold Pass” is asinine! You can’t force students into buying bundle tickets then deny half their tickets on arbitrary grounds. Let them fight it out the old fashioned way. I know you enjoy the power of absolute monopoly—who doesn’t—but with the blatant price-gouging on food and your mandatory-but-useless bundle packages, it’s like you’re trying to look like Comcast. You’re artificially making yourself the villain. Just keep students entertained, and they’ll forget they ever had a “student rights” bone to pick.
Charles I, Kingdom of England / Scotland / Ireland / France, 1625-1649:
It’s not that you have to keep your underlings happy, but you can’t give them an opportunity to become legitimate. For example: Don’t force someone out of a lesser political body if their resulting indignation can bring the populace to their side. Your student government had nothing to do with the feelings and aims of the student body en masse before you made a pariah of its vice president for drinking, of all things. There’s no better way for a marginalized institution to curry the favor of a society of drinkers than creating a kind of wino William Wallace.
It’s a small battle won that will lose you the war, like trying to rule by yourself for a decade and banning Parliament over slight disputes. Continue to give your enemies the axes to swing at you, and eventually one person will hit…
Oliver Cromwell, Commonwealth of England / Scotland / Ireland, 1653-1658:
I actually think you guys are doing quite well.
Maximilien de Robespierre of France, 1793-1794:
What is free speech really? For all intents and purposes, free speech is just whatever the students clamoring for it have defined it as. All you need to do is redefine “free speech” and you can easily take control of it. Everything’s in a name. You can lop the heads off of political dissidents and still get away with calling your society a “free” one. Change the calendar, change the history, change the name of your government, and you can get away with changing almost nothing real.
Napoleon Bonaparte, French Empire, 1804-1814:
Don’t listen to Robespierre, that dingus. Robespierre did one thing right: he found the right ways to get rid of the right people at the right time. But he needed me to pick up where he left off. When Robespierre took everything away, he failed to replace it with anything substantive. Robespierre can change the acronyms of all his little pet projects all he wants, but there’s nothing anyone loves more than a grand narrative. Make it look like you have something to do, like banning free speech is crucial to making campus send a unified message. Appeal to Jesuit values the same way I appealed to Ancient Rome. And stay dignified, because obviously your little rope-a-dope with UGBC didn’t work out. Take from that the lesson I learned too late: Pick your battles.
Nikita Khruschev, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 1953-1964:
Following Joseph Stalin, horrid guy as he was, is no small feat. Stalin was impressive. The man ruled over arguably the most powerful nation in the world for 30 years. His reign by its own standards can be termed an unmitigated success, a stark contrast to his National Socialist counterpart whose own “1000-year empire” hit a wall roughly 0.12 percent of the way through its run-time. I myself had a more-or-less pleasant 11 years in charge, due in no small part to blaming everything wrong in the USSR on poor Joseph.
But when I could no longer maintain my position of power I decided to sit down and write the secret to my successor Brezhnev in the form of two letters: one to be opened in the event he faced his first national crisis, one to be opened during his second. The first letter read: “Blame everything on me,” which, if my case is any example, works like a charm. The second letter read: “Sit down. Write two letters.”
Maybe a rebrand is in order, or a personnel switch. See if you can try Turning A New Leaf. Whatever it is, have an exciting 2015!
Featured Image by Francisco Ruela Jr. / Heights Graphics