Election Profile: Matthew P. Zanotelli & John F. Bash
Matthew P. Zanotelli '02 has already won two elections at Harvard. Last year his Housemates voted him "the friendliest guy in Mather," and this fall, he nabbed a slot on the Undergraduate Council.
But despite only one semester of experience on the council and a running mate who just transferred to Harvard, Zanotelli is looking for a third victory, hoping to win the council's presidency.
To win, Zanotelli says, he and his vice presidential candidate, John F. Bash '03, have to convince students that their lack of experience in council politics is actually strength.
"We're two people bringing new ideas...leaving behind some of the lingering tensions [on the council] from past years," says Bash.
Zanotelli says he believes many of the council's troubles stem from its precarious financial situation. He and Bash currently serve on the group's financial committee.
"It's like 'Oh! There's this problem sitting right there,'" Zanotelli says, hitting his forehead to emphasize his point. "At this point, [the financial situation] is just too dire."
Bash--a resident of Eliot House--was also elected this fall to serve as the council's secretary.
Zanotelli and Bash place the council's financial health at the center of their campaign, and have several ideas to increase council cash flow.
They propose creating a council mutual fund, supported by an optional fee on student term bills, which would increase the group's wealth in future years.
For the present though, the pair sees the council as under-funded--the current term bill fee of $20, an amount unchanged since 1988, is simply insufficient, they say.
"The term bill is going to have to be raised out of practicality," Bash says.
Zanotelli and Bash also speculate about obtaining matching funds from the University or receiving contributions from private donors.
The candidates say they would like to initiate "Sex Week," which would promote awareness on campus about issues of sexual orientation, assault, harassment, as well as lighter topics, such as dating at Harvard.
The week would culminate with a "Sex Dance" Bash says, for whom promoting sexual awareness is a personal mission, as his uncle was a gay activist who died of AIDS.
Both candidates are Catholics, and say they want to emphasize their openness about issues of sexual orientation, assault and harassment.
"We want to abolish the stereotypes," said Bash.
Continuing their student service-centered platform, Zanotelli and Bash say they want to extend dinner hours until 8 p.m. in at least one of the dining halls to accommodate student athletes and others involved in late-running extracurricular activities.
The two also say they would like to have hot sandwiches available at the fly-by station in Loker Commons.
Yet despite their engagement with council issues, Zanotelli and Bash do not have statistics on their side. Each year since the council president has been elected by popular vote, undergraduates have chosen a candidate who has spent multiple semesters on the council.
And for the past five years, the winning ticket has included a woman.
"We have confidence in Harvard students not to vote based on gender," Bash says. "We want to reach out to the people that are apathetic, the people who think that the council doesn't do anything."
Council member Carlos D. Esparza '02, a representative of Quincy, says Zanotelli is known for his personality.
"He seems like a friendly person--he's outgoing," Esparza says.
Zanotelli was the first to approach Bash--who transferred from Columbia this fall--about being his running mate.
Bash successfully passed the Proactive Grant Disclosure Bill this semester, which makes the council's grant decisions more public.
He also instituted a weekly undergraduate bulletin that lists council initiatives.
And Bash has nothing but praise for his running mate.
"Zanotelli brings the quality of an average student approach to a council that tends to be elitist," Bash says.