By Trisha Thadani, Staff Writer
Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore’s classic bow tie and ever-present smile is a common sight for Boston University students while walking down Commonwealth Avenue. Elmore is known to make appearances at various student-group meetings, several on-campus performances and, sometimes, even grabbing a drink with students at T’s Pub.
Many know Elmore as a figurehead and a leader, while others view him as a confidant, mentor and friend. Those who know him well enough say there is hardly a difference between Kenneth Elmore, the Dean of Students and Kenneth Elmore, family man and friend.
He said he promotes the same values of personal integrity and communication to his students as he does to his two teenage children.
“I think that getting people to really understand what it is in their life that they can do well and take pride in is important,” Elmore said. “I think about this position, and also me being a dad, is getting people to understand where their passions lie, and how best to deal with passion.”
Elmore has been with Boston University since 1985. Beginning as an intern at the George Sherman Union, Elmore now sits at his desk on the third floor of the GSU with the title of Dean of Students. Back in August, he celebrated his 10th anniversary as Dean of Students and 28th year with the University.
Though, Elmore’s path to Dean of Student was certainly not a straight one. Jumping between various positions within BU, he temporarily diverged from BU for to practice law. Four years later, with BU still pulsating through his blood, Elmore came back home to BU where he happily here to stay- for now.
“I truly feel I got one of the greatest and best jobs around… This is a job where I’ve seen incredible grace and people who perform in these wonderfully graceful ways and I say, there you go, that’s joy,” Elmore said. “It’s just joy and joy and joy.”
By Emily Overholt, Campus Editor
Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore shares his views on the 2012 Massachusetts election. All views expressed in this interview are that of an individual, not the thoughts of Boston University as a whole.
Daily Free Press: Did you vote in this election?
Kenneth Elmore: I did vote in this election.
DFP: Are you willing to share who you voted for?
KE: For me, voting for president while being a resident of Massachusetts is more about some sort of expressive conduct and being able to say, “This is how I handle the freedom that we have to vote,” than saying, “This is who I vote for.”
I just don’t think the way that you vote in [Massachusetts] for president really matters. So, I did vote. I did in an expressive way to show democracy that I’m here whether democracy pays attention to it. So, I almost think that it doesn’t matter who I voted for in Massachusetts, so I’m not going to tell you.
DFP: Did you follow the Senate race?
KE: I must admit I thought that Scott Brown would pull it off again. I also thought that there would have been a closer margin than what I think the margin ended up being for the two of them.
Scott Brown is an interesting guy who I think tends to come off as the right kind of representative for Massachusetts. I know he’s in the Republican Party, and people say, “Eh, a rep in Massachusetts means something different.” I think he was that different kind of republican in Massachusetts. I think he represented Massachusetts well, and I think Elizabeth Warren will also represent Massachusetts well.
It’s funny you’ve got these two people who I think in different ways really represent Massachusetts quite well in terms of their personalities. I think Elizabeth Warren comes at it with sort of that consumer advocate kind of approach that Massachusetts is about—the Massachusetts that’s about high ideas and pushing them forward and having that international impact. And Scott Brown, I think, is that guy who comes across as more on the ground, more specific, more a neighborhood kind of guy. The guy from around the way who’s done really well to represent us, too.
So, very different points of view I think the people in Massachusetts, me included, had some wonderful choices to make between the two of them.
DFP: What about the ballot questions?
KE: Here’s what I love about the ballot questions. I love that we actually run a plebiscite in Massachusetts in that if you get enough people real democracy happens. That’s what’s great—real democracy. You can get some questions out there.
One dealt with the ability for people who fix your car to share data, which I think is an important thing, I think I joined the 85 percent of people who said,“Sure,” especially since there’s a law I think that already exists about it. So it’s great not to have that confusion.
I have two younger children. I have a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old, and I had some great conversations about this with my 13-year-old daughter because she was advising me about how to vote. We had a great conversation about legally assisted suicide… She recommended that I vote for that, that I vote yes on that, because my daughter said, “Look I think that people need to be able to control that portion of their lives.” She was willing to put on the line the notion that maybe a doctor could be off a little bit here or there but if a person needs to control that, given the news that they get and working with a doctor, we need to do that.
I did vote for it. I think that I agree with my daughter that I would like to control these sorts of things, but I try to think more of the positive approach…
I think there’s something about personal autonomy that we’ve really got to look at. The ability for an individual to choose the time of their death when it is so imminent like that… I’m real conflicted about it because I’ve had plenty of lessons in my life that [suicide] is just blatantly wrong. But in the broader picture I think that I prefer to give people the ability to make some choices around that.
In terms of the marijuana, my daughter had less of an interest about this. But she also recommended that for medicinal purposes, we should allow people to be prescribed marijuana and to be able to use marijuana. I’m one of those people who thinks that the state has started to do so much to treat marijuana as less of a large scale criminal type of offense. This probably goes right in line with the overall look at it.
The hard part is there are still these conflicts that the feds still see pot differently, and there is a conflict too in that there still is a drug trade in pot. And with any underground drug trade, it’s dangerous. People still kill each other over large quantities of pot. People still rob each other over large quantities of pot.
Even though I think the society takes less of a criminalized view of pot, weed or whatever you want to call it, it’s more culture. It’s more pop culture, if you will. I think most people are starting to be relatively indifferent about people smoking dope.
However, it’s still illegal. I’m one of these people who thinks if we can do this under the guidance and supervision of a doctor, then we should allow people to do that. And society still needs to have a real important conversation about drug use in society and what we’re willing to tolerate.
So, I voted yes on that, too.