Where Are They Now? Jack Spencer Jr., B.A. ’71
Jack Spencer Jr., B.A. ’71, former Student Government Association president
Spencer recently wrote to UB’s Office of Alumni Relations to share the story of what he calls his “foray into [a] mission of insanity”—his 1970 campaign for Student Government Association president. Read on for excerpts:
In 1970, my debate coach at the University of Baltimore, Dan Craig, appointed me president of the Debate Team. I was proud of that … but [he] had even higher aspirations for me.
A month later, Mr. Craig, also a philosophy instructor and the adviser to the Student Arts Council, … told me he’d like to see me run for president of the Student Government Association. That was a humorous and preposterous proposal. The powerful, conservative, sports-oriented fraternities had had a stranglehold on student politics since the University’s inception in 1925. To my knowledge, no nonfraternity student had ever successfully challenged them for SGA president, and besides, I worked full time and knew few students outside the debate team.
That evening, I toyed with delusions of grandeur, manipulating imagined sceneries where the fraternities might possibly be defeated. The next day … I informed Mr. Craig that I would accept the challenge.
U of B was primarily a business and law school and was, by nature, conservative. My name was virtually unknown, and I was in the smaller liberal arts program. I needed a platform that would draw attention, one that was controversial but thought-provoking.
I would promise … an annual, faculty-approved teacher evaluation by the students. I would promise [students opposed to the Vietnam War] an antiwar protest that would shake the boots of our ultraconservative administration. … I would promise to change the SGA into a more representative form of government.
By a strange stroke of irony, a fraternity-friendly member of the current SGA agreed to run [for vice president] with me. Judy Jarrett was a former Miss University of Baltimore and a … member of seven organizations. … [She] would caution me about the formidable risks involved in tangling with the mighty fraternities. True indeed ... but then, what Goliath had ever been conquered by timidity or toothless sentiment? We called our ticket the Concerned Party.
Today, Spencer works as a therapist for the Garrett County (Maryland) Health Department. He also is a short-story writer and poet—he founded the Wednesday Night Writers Guild for local writers in his area—and has appeared in several plays at the Our Town Theater in Oakland, Md.