election results

Defeat comes despite high-profile support and national media attention

An undocumented student at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill who became a national cause célèbre in recent weeks as a candidate for student body president lost his election bid Tuesday in a landslide defeat.

UNC junior Emilio Vicente, a public policy major who was thrust into the spotlight after publicly acknowledging that he is not a U.S. citizen, lost his bid to represent the students of the public research university by a vote of 4,760 to 2,681, or 62.9 percent to 35.47 percent.

Prior to Tuesday’s election, Vicente – who describes himself as a “feminist” – had become the darling of left-leaning celebrities, earning praise and endorsements from the likes of Al Jazeera and actress Eva Longoria, for example.

Some at the school of nearly 30,000 students had heralded Vicente as a symbol against oppression, with one student declaring “he represents the Carolina that is fighting back against the political forces that want to make public education accessible to only … upper class white students.”

There were audible gasps as the election results were announced Tuesday night at Carroll Hall, where about 50 students had gathered. The tally represented the electronic votes casts throughout the day on a campus described by some as having a “tense” atmosphere Tuesday.

Observers of the election attribute Vicente’s resounding defeat to several factors, including the observation that his rise to fame had turned him into a media hound who sought publicity over pushing a strong platform.

Many students have suggested his platform, which he publicly described as “organic and evolving,” was never strong to behind with.

Moreover, the national media attention may have had a backlash against Vicente’s campaign, with some students saying they were “tired of hearing about it all the time.”

Underscoring all this, Vicente’s own platform writer, Ishmael Bishop, publicly denounced his support for Vicente one day before the election, saying in a Facebook post that “working very closely with Emilio’s campaign, I know that he is NOT a transparent character. It is quite clear to me that ultimately Emilio lacks the competence and tact for representing a diverse Carolina for everyone.”

Vicente responded, and both comments went viral.

The full text of Bishop’s original post, for example, was reposted on the Carolina Review Daily website, a conservative publication on campus, and was read more than 12,000 times Monday and Tuesday, with most of that web traffic coming from Facebook.

In the end, students opted for junior Andrew Powell, a popular white, male student described by some students on campus as strident and rational, with a strong vision for moving the scandal-ridden campus forward.

At the election viewing party, Powell’s supporters cheered and clapped for their candidate’s victory.

Powell’s platform included a pledge to stop any more tuition increases and serve the campus with integrity during one of its most problematic times, as the school is embroiled in a scandal regarding the school’s admission that it has allowed some student athletes to enroll in fake classes.

College Fix contributor Ben Smith is a student at UNC Chapel Hill.

IMAGE: Facebook screenshot

When Laura Hollis, a Notre Dame University business and law professor, looks at America’s path forward, she cannot help but see a dead end.

“Many people say to me, ‘If it gets worse than this, I’m not sure we can survive it,’ and I’m inclined to agree with them,” Hollis said in an interview with The College Fix. “It’s never been as bad as it is now.”

Hollis, who in addition to her professorship is a popular conservative columnist and political commentator, is the author of a post-election column titled “Post Mortem” that went viral across America. It was reposted on many websites, spread like wildfire across social media sites, and emailed far and wide, landing in mom-and-pop inboxes across the nation.

In fact, just as recently as Dec. 28, the popular left-leaning political blog Daily Kos posted an “open letter to Laura Hollis” denouncing her piece.

This ongoing whirlwind of a world wide web debate was prompted by Hollis’ Nov. 8 column, which analyzed the state of the union the day after President Barack Obama was re-elected.

It argued, among other things, that: conservatives are outnumbered; they’re losing the culture war; too many Americans are immature, seeking only self-gratification; and the so-called Republican War on Women played a role in the election outcome.

“America is on a horrific bender; has been for some time now,” Hollis wrote. “The warning signs of our fiscal profligacy and culture of lack of personal responsibility are everywhere – too many to mention. We need only look at other countries which have gone the route we are walking now to see what is in store. … I see the country I love headed toward its own ‘rock bottom,’ and I cannot seem to reach those who are taking it there.”

In an interview this week with The College Fix, Hollis said feedback she’s received from that piece has led her to believe millions of Americans feel as if they have no voice. But the answer, she argued, is not to cower in the corner and give up.

“Speak up,” Hollis said. “Because being polite does not mean being silent.”

First and foremost, the culture war must to be addressed, she said. It’s time to stop worrying about stepping on people’s toes or hurting people’s feelings, she said.

Some Republican and conservative commentators argued after the election the solution to regain the White House, Congress and the country is to become more moderate, acquiesce to the social norms promulgated by the Left.

Bad idea, Hollis said.

“We have to decide we need to change the tone and tenor of culture in the country,” Hollis said. “In order to change the culture, you have to be a part of the culture.”

Take, for example, the alleged War on Women. During the presidential campaign, women’s rights discussions served as a façade for something more sinister, she said. What appeared to be a discourse about access to birth control was really about expanding abortion services and physician-assisted suicide, Hollis said.

“I’m pro-better choice—all choices are not equal,” Hollis said. “If my father is suffering from advanced dementia, I don’t have the right to smother him with a pillow.”

Hollis said advances in science have provided new and startling information about life from conception through natural death that every American should learn. This is one example of the kinds of things that could help turn the culture war tide in conservatives’ favor.

Hollis said “the left” has become politically adept at demonizing people, but it is important for all Americans to understand everyone wants to make things better, she said.

While Hollis’ first point in her “Post-Mortem” work declared Americans who champion free enterprise are outnumbered by those who want free stuff, she said that did not mean throw in the towel.

“No matter where you are, that can be ground-zero for changing things,” Hollis said.

Fix contributor Ryan Lovelace is a student at Butler University.

Click here to read Hollis’ entire Post-Mortem piece.

Click here to Like The College Fix on Facebook.


IMAGE: Dave Hosford