At Toro College, Everyone Is a Class President

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by Diana Senechal

Home schooled student Molly Whigham ran unopposed for president in 9th grade and dreams of attending Toro when she's old enough. "It just feels like a good fit," she said.
Home schooled student Molly Whigham ran unopposed for 9th grade class president this year and dreams of attending Toro when she’s old enough. “It just feels like a good fit,” she said.

Fargo, N.D.—In view of the increasing need for leadership in modern society, Toro College has embarked on an ambitious new plan to have as many class presidents as it has students.

“Everyone here is a leader,” said President Giselle Bukvalna, “and we mean that literally.” To ensure that all students live up to the task, Toro enrolls only those who were elected class president at least once in high school. “That’s really no different from what other colleges are doing,” noted Bukvalna. “It’s what we do from there that distinguishes us.”

Twice a year, the college holds elections. The students may check off a box that states that they vote for themselves and all their classmates, or they may list names of students they do not wish to elect.

“You’ve got to be elected unanimously, or you’ve got a publicity problem,” said Class President Tracy Skellar. “If anyone votes against you, then you have two choices. You can try to transfer to another college, or you can go on a PR campaign for a month. Of course we strongly recommend the PR campaign.”

Those undertaking a campaign must meet with a branding consultant, put posters of themselves around campus, solicit Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers, and make a public confession about the errors of their former ways. If a month of such campaigning does not bring them unanimous election, they are entitled to a six-month extension.

“It’s expensive, but it’s an important investment,” said consultant Tutu LeBaron. “What they’re doing now, they’ll have to do later anyway. And our kids are really sympathetic. They feel empowered when one of their peers goes out and self-promotes like that.”

“It’s basically cooperative competition,” Class President Jerome van Voet concurred. “We’re all in this together. Your campaign makes me look good. It also gives me ideas for slogans and color combinations, which I will definitely need at some point, if not this very minute.”

Faculty have been instructed to address students as “Mr. President” or “Ms. President” and to include a unit on leadership in all of their courses.

“We rarely hear about math leadership,” said Bukvalna, “but it’s there. We are doing our students a disservice if we do not prepare them to be math leaders of tomorrow.” Instead of being graded solely on their knowledge and understanding, students now have to demonstrate eye contact, ease of movement, slideshow mastery, and casual name-dropping.

“If you’re proving the differentiability of a convex function—which no one does here, I’m just saying—you might want to mention Petr Habala or Marian Fabian,” said Vincent Paysan, a math prodigy who had successfully completed an extended PR campaign. “It could mean a connection later on. Plus, that way you’re showing you’ve got real-world sense. You aren’t up in the clouds with your theorems.”

Some rival colleges have suggested derisively that “where everyone is president, there can be no president at all.” According to Bukvalna, nothing could be further from the truth. “All of the leaders lead here,” she insisted. “Every week, they meet to pass proposals. It’s a great way for us to get student buy-in for our initiatives.” Last week, for instance, the class presidents signed an agreement to eliminate courses—in English and music, for instance—that seemed to encourage dreaminess. “It’s great to see you all so purposeful and with the times,” Bukvalna told them in an email.

The class presidents also approved a peer counseling program; from now on, any student who diverges from his or her leadership role will be required to attend ten group sessions. “We address our problems compassionately and proactively,” said a class president, “and so, you see, we rarely have them.”

The evidence was clear. At five minutes before the hour, students could be seen striding confidently across the walkway, pausing to shake hands or wave their campaign signs.

“Vote for me!” rang a voice. Then they disappeared into the buildings for their next morning class.