Saturday, December 13, 2008

Meet Jenn Bandy

Jennifer Bandy is a nationally-ranked shooter, an honors Government student, and president of the Dartmouth College Republicans. She is also my oldest friend at Dartmouth. We met at a Georgetown University summer program for high school kids when we were rising high school seniors. This is not the first time I’ve mentioned her on this blog.

Last month’s edition of Dartmouth’s Untamed newspaper, the campus feminist publication, contained a nice write-up about Jenn. Unfortunately, Untamed does not publish an online edition, which means the article doesn’t show up when folks Google Jenn. What they find instead are her work on and several unfair post-election articles from the main campus paper, articles I won’t dignify by linking to here. In the days running up to the election, a feud developed between Jenn and some of the College Democrats, and Jenn got the short end of the stick in the paper’s coverage. I won’t take sides in the election feud, but I will say that the coverage did not paint an accurate picture of Jenn. I don’t agree with her much when it comes to politics, but she will go and deserves to go far. At the very least, she deserves to have more positive and accurate articles show up on the first page of her Google hits. I am grateful to Untamed writer Laura Romain for allowing me to excerpt her article here.

Meet Jennifer Bandy: She’s blonde, bubbly, and one of the most controversial figures on campus

At first glance, Jennifer Bandy seems to be an unlikely target for hate mail. A 20-year-old Dartmouth senior with a giddy, unstoppable way of speaking, she tells me that her favorite things include chocolate, her teddy bear, and country music. At just five-foot-one, she seems tiny, and she wears heavy designer glasses that set off her narrow, expressive face. Her long, perfectly-layered hair is light brown by my standards, but according to Bandy—and her State of California driver’s license—she’s a blonde.

“I just love it when someone thinks I’m blonde,” she says with her trademark Southern Californian charm…

As for the campus’s reaction to the article in The Dartmouth, Bandy tells me, “I received a lot of Facebook messages and e-mail messages, just…” Her voice trails off. She pauses to inhale deeply before continuing. “A lot of people make up their minds about someone based on something they’ve read, with that person sort of dehumanized in their minds. I would never consider sending something mean to someone I didn’t know, because we’re all humans, and that’s hurtful.”…

According to Bandy, the responses that she received as a young woman campaigning for John McCain were largely negative. “Being a female conservative sometimes confuses people,” she explains. “I had a lot of people approach me and say that I should be ashamed of holding a Sarah Palin sign, or that if I voted for John McCain I wouldn’t be able to get an abortion.”

She shrugs her shoulders. “And my response is, well, I don’t want an abortion, but for you to look down on me for my political choice shows a lack of respect for me as a woman who is able to make my own choice. You know, women have been voting in this country for”—she hardly has to pause—“eighty-eight years nationally. There’s no reason for people to think that I am incapable, especially as a Dartmouth student, of making up my mind using facts.”

Wait a second: A female conservative with shiny hair, fancy glasses, and controversy to spare—does anyone else detect a resemblance to Sarah Palin?

Evidently. According to Bandy, “All these people e-mailed me after Palin was chosen, saying that I reminded them of her or she reminded them of me.” She laughs. “Honestly I think it’s just the gun thing.” Bandy is the lady representative to California’s all-state NSCA team…

"I guess,” Bandy says, “there aren’t that many women out there who seem pretty girly when you get them into the idea of fashion and enjoying a pair of heels and, you know, designer glasses, but who can also get into that masculine world and work within it. Shooting is male-dominated; government is male-dominated… That kind of person is unique.”

Bandy is refreshingly different from Palin in that she is unashamed of her own ambition and success. While Palin famously downplayed her political ambitions by emphasizing her start as a “hockey mom” and PTA member, Bandy is more than happy to tell me about her impressive qualifications: her work with six political campaigns, her internship at a congressman’s office, her accomplishments as an intern for the Department of State, her government thesis on US senior military advising in crisis situations, and, of course, her position as president of the College Republicans. “I ran in a tightly-contested election,” she says with a smile. “And I won.”

So what does the future hold for Jennifer Bandy? She hopes to start law school next year; after that, she says, “I could practice law; I could go into government as a bureaucrat. Or”—her tone remains casual—“I could go into government in politics.”

I ask whether politics is the siren song she’s hearing right now. “I don’t know. It’s kind of a dirty game, to be honest,” she replies. “And I think, to enter politics, you have to have a huge ego, which I’m not really sure I’m cut out for, and a tough skin. And it does bother me when people say nasty things about me; it does bother me when people say I’m a psychopath or something of that nature. You know, I’m just a person.”

What does Bandy think of the recent election cycle, which was a particularly eventful one for women in politics? Unsurprisingly, she isn’t a Hillary fan. But Bandy is eager to see a woman as President, provided that she’s the right woman for the job: “The first woman who holds that position is going to be setting the standard, answering once and for all the question that sometimes floats out there: Are women equally capable as men of being President?”

Bandy nods her head emphatically. “And I want that woman to leave no doubt. I want her to be one of the most popular Presidents. The first female President will set the tone for women in politics, and I’m excited to see it.”


Jordan said...

She does sound like a neat person. Would you say she's more conservative than me?

Nathan Empsall said...

Politically-speaking, Jenn is like a baby Mrs. C. Take that for what it's worth.

Jordan said...

My Apologies, "Mrs. C?"

Nathan Empsall said...

Karen Cou. from Charter, the debate/history/geography/economics and now apparently Model UN teacher.

Nathan Empsall said...

Yeah, but I didn't want to type out her whole name. No need for this informal discussion to show up when people Google her as a professional.