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Cass Hiring

Oren Cass ’05 notes that

If I ever run my own company, I’m going to have an explicit policy of not hiring anyone who participated in student government while in college.

There is, of course, a grain of truth here. On average, the types of Ephs on College Council (I was one) are different from other Ephs. Some of the ways that they are different are bad and some are good. But I hope that Cass is not serious here. The College Council Presidents (back in the bad old hierarchical days we had Presidents and Vice Presidents) around my graduation year (Amy Jeffries ’87, Carter Zinn ’88 and Trace Blackenship ’89) were good and serious people. Cass would be fortunate indeed to have them as employees.

Although I know that a lot has changed in the last 20 years, I would suspect that the type of Eph attracted to CC is not one of them.

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#1 Comment By Shimon Rura On March 22, 2004 @ 9:42 am

While I do think it’s conceivable that a smart, serious person could be involved in College Council, that wasn’t often my experience while I was at Williams from 1999 to 2003. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to call CC members generally corrupt, CC is far and away the most arcane pissing contest regularly billed for a general audience at Williams College.

I think the problem is that CC is too dependent on effective leadership, but it’s simply too easy for CC co-presidents to squander their power. Co-presidents tend to get elected because they’re good at being popular. This skill does not correlate with skill at calling bullshit on someone in an auditorium full of sophomore sycophants who will be seeking your blessing for their future candidacy.

And finally, CC is simply not that relevant: if you want to get something changed around campus, it’s best to gather a small group of dedicated individuals and approach the involved parties one on one. If you need money in this process, you may need to go to CC, which will probably be the most inscrutably painful step in the entire endeavor.

#2 Comment By Aidan On March 22, 2004 @ 2:07 pm

Oren’s right, kids. You wouldn’t hire self-serving sycophants with no useful skills who spent the majority of their college careers kissing ass and learning Robert’s rules of order. Well, maybe you’d hire them if you were the US Government, but that’s another story entirely. “Student Government Types” are largely worthless, and it is a marker, at least at Williams, for a profound non-seriousness and lack of critical faculties.

#3 Comment By (d)avid On March 23, 2004 @ 6:27 am

You’re absolutely right. Given two identical resumes, why hire the person who was motivated enough to be involved in the college community and popular enough to win a minor election when you could hire a misanthrope who spent his or her time drinking cheap beer and whining about college council?

College Council and the co-Presidency is not important. I would rather hire someone who was the head of WCFM or won a departmental award, but it is definitely falls into the “plus” category on the resume and not the “minus” category. Believe it or not, companies and academic departments look for social individuals who get involved and show some capacity for organizing people and being well liked. Participation in College Council may not signal competence at core job skills, but it does signal useful traits to have in an employee.

[Disclaimer: I never ran for College Council and never viewed it as anything more than a wallet for student groups. But I could think of worse things than for the budgets of student groups to be determined by democratically elected representatives.]

#4 Comment By Aidan On March 24, 2004 @ 2:08 pm

oh, bullshit. (d)avid, what Oren’s saying is that seeing “college council” on a resume means the person is a worthless brownnoser, and a waste of time. Far better to pick someone who spent their time and energy in a more productive fashion. Binge drinking would certainly qualify.