Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Rope of Sand: The Jeff Friedrich Story

We get a sense there's some demand for Friedrich coverage. We've had several web hits from Maine (Jeff's home state), and even three people searching for "jeff friedrich condom video" (we'll save those people some time - click here).

So, what's the deal with Jeff Friedrich? His platform has more priorities than Paul Martin riding through Quebec on a campaign swing. But thankfully he bolded his big priorities, so only every third sentence is *that* important. So instead of ten single-spaced pages, you really only have to read four!

His platform indicates a huge amount of knowledge, and a deep understanding of issues related to students, as well as those facing the University. He clearly gets it, and has solutions to everything. But could that be a problem? A President can't fix it all. In recent years, we've seen the occasional President swim around in circles, seemingly over-whelmed. In short, without vision. We don't accuse Jeff of having no vision. But we'd like to know where he'll spend his time and energy; he can't possibly focus on the entirety of his platform.

Much has been raised about Jeff running for both President and BoG. I'm positive that being on BoG will make him a better AMS President: there's so much knowledge that you pick up on BoG, so much of an understanding of how the University operates. However, the converse isn't necessarily true: being AMS President won't necessarily make him a better BoG rep. Board members don't care if your words have AMS backing if the argument is stupid. Conversely, if the AMS has a cogent, lucid argument, the Board will hear it, regardless of whether or not their President is on the Board.

Jeff has been a fantastic VP Academic. He's brought about some real and important (albeit incremental) change, and learned a great deal about University lobbying. But we're slightly worried that he sees the AMS Presidency as a mere extension of the VP Academic job. There are worse things, of course. But the AMS President has more of a stewardship role, and needs some real leadership. Yes, lobbying and politicking are very important elements of the Presidency. But there's an internal leadership that's required, too.

We don't mean to suggest that Jeff doesn't have that. And, regardless, his Presidency will be an valuable learning experience for him. (If he wins. If. Ha ha.) We've seen many AMS Presidents, and there's one constant - they all leave the position as a very different person from the one who assumed the post. The only way Jeff can achieve the majority of his platform is by inspiring people he's working with, and by empowering people who aren't him. Which ain't easy. But if he can pull it off, look for a much improved AMS and University.