Throwing a Curveball

FM asks the UC presidential candidates questions that no one, not even people running for student government, should have to answer

Jessica E. Schumer

Aaron S. Byrd '05

Joshua A. Barro ’05

Joshua A. Barro ’05 came into the FM office sporting a blue button-down shirt and a slightly prideful smile. He is aware of his achievements streamlining the UC’s finance committee. He arrived looking slightly uncomfortable in FM’s territory, but as things got moving Barro opened up, revealing his favorite porn site, why he sweats Tarzan and what he’d name University President Lawrence H. Summers’ ass, if given the chance.

Fifteen Minutes: What is your favorite Steven Segal movie?

Joshua A. Barro: You know, I’ve never seen a Steven Segal movie. I love crappy movies, and I have yet never seen a Steven Segal movie. I’ve heard Executive Decision was cool because they killed him off in like 20 minutes, which was surprising. That’s an area I need to pursue that I haven’t yet, and that’s something we will definitely do in a Josh-and-Christina [L. Adams ’06] administration: more Steven Segal movies.

FM: It has been alleged that you leaked the Paris Hilton sex video. How do you respond?

JAB: [Guilty laugh] I could comment on that, but I won’t.

FM: What would you say is the last thing you were wrong about, and why were you wrong?

JAB: Oh, I’ve been wrong about lots of things... in my life. Uh, I was wrong...I had an argument with my blockmate yesterday about...what was it...I vividly remember...[long pause]. Well, the very last thing I was wrong about was that I would get up at 9:00 this morning, but that proved to be false. I changed my alarm about eight or nine times, so that’s the claim I made less than 12 hours ago that proved to be wrong.

FM: How about in an argument?

JAB: In an argument... Okay. I did win a bet with the UC secretary about whether or not Utah bordered Oregon... But, [a time] that I was wrong in an argument, I....[Very long pause, phone rings and briefly breaks the silence. Phone stops ringing, and lengthy silence continues.] I can’t remember what it was, but I’m sure it’s happened. It’s happened many, many times.

FM: What is your favorite pornographic website?

JAB: I’ve always liked whitehouse.com just for the irony, although what they market on there doesn’t appeal to me particularly.

FM: How has being the son of Robert Barro shaped the economic policy for your UC candidacy?

JAB: Not that much. I mean, it shaped my economic world view. I was like the only 14 year old using the term moral hazard and things like that. On UC, I’ve been very conscious about making sound fiscal decisions where we price the services that we give at what they’re actually costing us. I like to say that the students pay for it either way, it’s just a question of whether they pay for it through their term bill or they pay for it through the fee for the service.

FM: What is in your underwear drawer that might be surprising?

JAB: I have about 14 pairs of exactly the same Abercrombie and Fitch underwear. So, I think that’s unlikely to be shocking.

FM: Which Disney character would you most like to have sex with?

JAB: I think that probably it would have to be Tarzan. I mean, he’s sort of the archetypal desirable male, except that, I think, I’d like to have sex with him, but not to have a relationship with him. Conversation would just be a non-starter with him.

FM: Let’s try some word association.

JAB: Okay.

FM: Migrant workers.

JAB: Open the border.

FM: Larry Summers.

JAB: Abrasive but sensible.

FM: Yale.

JAB: Sucks.

FM: Affirmative Action

JAB: I think it’s the issue that is most salient on the Harvard campus.

FM: UC.

JAB: Serving students well; serve students better.

FM: Who would you take with you to a desert island?

JAB: You know, I think I might take Rohit Chopra with me to a desert island, because even though he might try to micromanage the island, he would be at least telling it to do the right things.

FM: What are you most afraid of?

JAB: I don’t go through life with a lot of fear. My spark.com stress test score was 3 percent, which means that I’m not spending very much time stressing about things. But, you know, French people scare me a little bit, but I work through it. I’ve been to France.

FM: If you were accused of any crime against humanity, what would it be?

JAB: Probably forcing my bad music tastes on other people. I don’t think the UN would look kindly on my making people listen to Devo and Duran Duran.

FM: I’ve heard that you are a member of a society that tries to name things after Ronald Reagan.

JAB: No, I worked for an organization this summer that has a side project where they try to get things named after Ronald Reagan; I did not work on the Ronald Reagan legacy project.

FM: What would you like to name after Ronald Reagan?

JAB: I was thinking we could name Larry Summers’ ass after Ronald Reagan. It could be the Ronald Reagan Memorial Larry Summers’ Ass.

FM: Would you try to have that implemented as UC president?

JAB: It’ll be the first thing on my platform.

FM: How about in the Jelly Belly grab bag? What is your favorite jelly bean?

JAB: My Favorite jelly bean? Are you just continuing to try to associate me with Ronald Reagan?

FM: No—why?

JB: He loved jelly beans... I like the butter popcorn jellybeans, which is a pretty unusual variety.

Aaron S. Byrd

Perhaps the proximity of the Greenhouse set Aaron S. Byrd ’05 off, or perhaps it was FM’s own preoccupation with food that shaped the direction of the discussion. Regardless, during his afternoon chat with FM on a bench in the Science Center lobby, Byrd expounded on his vision for HUDS reform (and bringing better bands to campus) while confessing his love for fast food. Byrd, who claims to be a candidate for “the common man,” seems to think that the way to the common student’s vote is through his stomach.

Fifteen Minutes: What do you think of the disappearance of the Chick-Fil-A?

Aaron S. Byrd: It’s terrible. It flat-out is terrible. Chick-Fil-A is a flat-out fast food place. Now we have those fancy burritos and fancy pizzas, but we don’t have fast food. I think it says something about the lack of communication with Harvard Dining Services...It is a travesty that Chick-Fil-A is not there anymore. It is a travesty that we do not have Taco Bell instead of tacos.

FM: So you told a Crimson reporter that you watch “Jeopardy!” every day. If the question were “Who is Aaron Byrd,” what would be the answer?

ASB: Hm. That’s tricky. Um. Who is Aaron Byrd? [Long pause] Hold on a second. [Another long pause] “What is the name of the man who is just like you?” I don’t know if any one would get that though.

FM: That’s a hard question.

ASB: A very hard question—three thousand points. It’d be Final Jeopardy! I think another possible question is “Who is that crazy guy who is always having fun but doesn’t drink?”

FM: You don’t drink?

ASB: No. All my boys drink—all my boys drink like fish. I’m high on life, I’m just happy to be alive.

FM: What is your platform?

ASB: A big deal of my platform is the whole charities idea, contacting charities to say the Undergraduate Council will co-sponsor issues. We help people out and get people we want to see to come

FM: Spell “platform” backwards.

ASB: M-R-O-F-T-A-L-P. Did I do it right?

FM: So, continuing along these lines...

ASB: I love a lot of things but I love lobsters. The opportunity to eat ten lobsters in one night was one of the best things here. And now it’s gone. Who was asked about things?

FM: So, as a Texan —

ASB: As a Texan. I’m from the Wild West, let there be no mistake about it.

FM: So, as a Texan, lobster is not exactly typical fare for you, right?

ASB: That’s why I love it. I’m so used to cows, killing cows, going out and eating the same cow you kill. I’m not used to this catching and buttering thing. The first thing I will do when elected—when elected—is call for an audit of the dining services. This monopoly has to end.

FM: Do you play Monopoly?

ASB: I love Monopoly. I’m always on Boardwalk and Park Place. I always end up cheating though.

FM: Why?

ASB: It just ends up being a free-for-all, survival of the fittest.

FM: What’s your favorite themed Monopoly?

ASB: It’s gotta be the traditional Monopoly. I don’t like the fancy stuff. I’m a traditional man, not conservative, but a traditional Southern gentleman. Not all this fancy-schmancy stuff. I love a lot of things: life, lobster, Monopoly, Jeopardy!, football, family...I’m thinking of starting a family. I want to have twelve kids.

FM: Um, before you graduate from college, or...?

ASB: I’m just looking for a wife.

FM: What are the qualifications?

ASB: Just a nice girl, period. No ridiculous requirements.

FM: So would you appear on “The Bachelor?”

ASB: Yeah, I just don’t know if I’d succumb to all the greasy fast-lane stuff they make you do. Actually, no, some of those girls are scheming and sneaky. You know, if you get me a single date out of this article I’ll be happy.

FM: So, speaking of dating, I hear that your sister is a cheerleader.

ASB: Now you’re getting on a touchy subject. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t taken a few guys up to the wall. It would be hard enough if she was in the library where boys came by once in a while, but no, Sarah has to go to the front row of the cheerleaders, with guys lifting her butt up in the air...if I didn’t know those guys lifting her butt, I’d have their butt on the ground.

FM: You were a Wendy’s High School Heisman nominee. What is your favorite Wendy’s menu item?

ASB: Spicy chicken sandwich, without a doubt. Since Dave [Thomas, Wendy’s founder] passed away they haven’t been doing so well—lost a bit of their flava—regardless, I still love Wendy’s and as their representative, I’ll look into bringing them here. I’ll even work there.

FM: I’ve been told you have a back problem. Where would you recommend Harvard students to go for a back massage?

ASB: A good back massage—I can’t say that, I can’t say what I was going to say. I know I give a good back massage. [Pauses.] Oh, I can’t say that either. I get requested all the time.

FM: By whom?

ASB: Just random people.

FM: Random Harvard people?

ASB: Random Harvard people, yeah.

FM: Do you know them?

ASB: Most of them.

FM: So you’re Christian?

ASB: Yeah.

FM: I hear you wear a Jewish star?

ASB: Yeah.

FM: Why is that?

ASB: The Jewish people are my Biblical heritage. Period. And J.C. was a Jew. The founders of the church were Jewish. All 12 disciples were Jews. I got mad love from my Jewish brothers.

Jason L. Lurie

UC presidential hopeful Jason L. Lurie ’05 describes himself as the Dennis Kucinich of the race. He knows he doesn’t have a chance in hell but perseveres nonetheless, pushing the issues close to his heart. A combination of boldfaced wit, awkward social incompetence and a proclivity for pushing unpopular legislation doomed Lurie’s presidential run last year, in which he finished dead last. His prospects appear equally bleak this year. Last month the Salient ran a banner editorial headlined “Repeal Jason Lurie” in reaction to his muckraking against Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship’s exclusion of non-Christian students from its board last year.

FM enjoyed a moment with Lurie at the Barker Center Cafe this Monday.

Fifteen Minutes: So why are you running?

Jason L. Lurie: When Liza Minnelli got married, people said that David Gest is probably gay and that Liza Minnelli is really weird. People get married for all kinds of reasons, and people run for office for all kinds of reasons. I don’t think I can beat all three other tickets, but I think I can influence the race.

FM: Rohit: thumbs up or thumbs down?

JLL: I’m a big fan. I know [hopefuls Matthew W. Mahan ‘05 and Joshua A. Barro ‘05] are going to try to distance themselves from him, but at the same time, if you look at all the good things that have happened in the UC this last year, almost all of them can be traced back easily to Rohit. One of my platform points is to pay Rohit to be an administrative assistant to the council next year. I talked to him about it, and he says he’d consider that. So yeah, big thumbs up to Rohit.

FM: The Harvard Salient: thumbs up or thumbs down?

JLL: I was outside the Science Center today and [Gladden J. Pappin ‘04] walked by. I tried to hand him a flier. I didn’t know you could convey such hatred through facial expressions. Harvard Salient, their facts are all wrong, but it’s the thought that counts.

FM: What’s your platform on Christianity?

JLL: I come from a Jewish family. I don’t go to church. I really have no problem with Christianity. I’m opposed to discrimination. I’m not going to name any names, and I’m not going to mention any people, but some people are in favor of discrimination [gesturing to the words “The Harvard Salient” on one of his campaign posters]. I think that, in principle, groups shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on things that aren’t under your control. We have rules about discrimination, and I think we should follow those rules.

FM: Is it true that your motions have been shot down more times than any of your UC peers’?

JLL: I’d have to check the minutes, but they’re shot down frequently. It’s always that way with people who are on the cutting edge. People aren’t ready for change. And the Council is much more conservative than the campus.

FM: Social life is an important topic on the UC agenda this year. How’s your social life?

JLL: Can I pass on this one?

FM: No.

JLL: This is the kind of thing that I know that, if I run for office in the future, they might go after me like they went after Bush—the whole cocaine thing. No, I’m actually kind of a homebody. I play cards with friends, play Scrabble. I’m not quite as big a drinker as Rohit—he’s just shy of being an alcoholic. But playing Monopoly when you’re stoned —whoa, that’s the stuff. Luxury tax, 10 percent, you don’t know what is going on.

FM: Is it true that you’re the “enfant terrible” of the UC, as the Salient charges?

JLL: Does that mean I’m like the crazy kid? What does that mean? [When I saw that] I just said the Salient got a new thesaurus. The Council has become very much ‘let’s just do things the old way; we won’t talk about anything that could revolutionize how we do things.’ I think we should at least consider change. If that means that I’m the enfant terrible, then so help me, I guess I am.

You can’t buy publicity like this: The Salient calls you the devil, the Salient’s always wrong. Therefore, you’re God. That’s gonna get me in trouble, that line. Like when the Beatles said, ‘I’m Jesus.”

FM: Did you do student government in high school?

JLL: Like two-thirds of Harvard students, I did student government in high school. Senior year I instituted a coup and had the president overthrown by a friend of mine who was very competent. Those were heady days.

FM: Who’s the best looking of your opponents?

JLL: I think [Christina L. Adams ‘06, Barro’s running mate] has a southern belle thing going for her. That could be some fun, but she’s so conservative. [Divya A. Mani ‘04, running mate of Aaron C. Byrd ‘05] is a party girl, so that could be fun. I think it’s a wash between them.

FM: Final question. Larry Summers: enfant terrible or teddy-bear cutie pie?

JLL: Again, I’m not really sure what enfant terrible means. I think Larry Summers is a good guy. Well, no. I guess I don’t think he’s a good guy. He’s not really enfant terrible, he’s just like a rock. No, more like a boulder. No, more like a mountain.

Matthew W. Mahan

Matthew Mahan’s campaign merges the tenets of Das Kapital and the revolutionary nature of the internet. Who else would suggest www.help.harvard.edu? The only problem with the Mahan/Blickstead ticket may arise from its tendency to focus on Canadians, the salmon Slurpee drinkers of the North.

Fifteen Minutes: Is it a surprising coincidence that your posters are very similar to Rohit and Jessica’s from last year?

Matthew W. Mahan: To be honest, yellow just shows up the best. We actually held up a few different colors and everybody in the room agreed yellow is the best. At the same rate, Rohit is very competent and I have no problem being associated with him, but that wasn’t why we chose the color.

FM: Your Vice-Presidential candidate, Mike, is a Canadian. Are you at all worried about espionage or anti-American sentiment tarnishing your campaign?

MWM: I’m more worried about him playing Bryan Adams out in front of the Science Center. You know in the state of heightened awareness of security issues, it’s a concern. We might want to have HUPD check him out.

FM: How do you know he isn’t secretly leaking information to McGill, the so-called Harvard of the North?

MWM: It worries me, but then again McGill could never be Harvard.

FM: In your acknowledgment of the Let’s Go Rome 2003, you refer to a game called “sloshball”. Could you elaborate on this game?

MWM: Sloshball is Let’s Go’s favorite pastime. Essentially what you do is: Friday afternoon, you leave work a little early and go down across the river and have a few beers and then run and around and try to win the game. You ever play kickball?

FM: Yes, go on.

MWM: So you have this funny red ball. This ball has been around for like three years...We actually popped it over the summer. It was a travesty. But anyway, you get this little red ball and you have a few beers. Now the rule is you have to have a beer in one hand the entire time. It doesn’t matter if you are kicking, if you are pitching, if you are out in the field, or if you are running the bases, you have to have a beer. It makes it so much more exciting. You have a case of beers. Everybody grabs one. And so basically you just play kickball, but the rule is you have to be holding a beer at all times and you are supposed to be drinking it too. By the third inning, people are really struggling to even kick the thing. It’s a lot of fun.

FM: Do you think that sloshball is what Harvard needs to ameliorate its social scene?

MWM: I think that’s a good place to start.

FM: Would you support UC sloshball?

MWM: I would. I do, however, think it should be indoor sloshball in our new [future] student center.

FM: FM has heard rumors that you greatly enjoy the works of Karl Marx. Are you a Marxist?

MWM: Hmm, well we’re talking about subsidizing student services. I think Marx has a lot to teach us.

FM: Any plans for UC-sponsored Marxist revolutions if you’re elected?

MWM: Only if they [the administration] won’t extend our library hours and our party hours. If we can get those done, we will hold off on the Marxist revolutions.

FM: As a Californian, did you vote in the recall?

MWM: I did not. I worked on a campaign here and moved my registration.

FM: If you had, who would you have voted for? Would you have voted for or against the recall?

MWM: I would have voted against the recall. Simply because I think it sets a really bad precedent.

FM: What do you think of the new “Governator?”

MWM: Terrifying.

FM: If elected, are you afraid of recall attempts?

MWM: I am more scared of recall attempts from Canada actually.

FM: What do you think are the effects of Mike being a premier member of the Canadian club? Do you think you have a strong Canadian constituency?

MWM: I think we do. I think we will have a really high turnout among Canadians. I think [Mike] brings an important diversity to the ticket. It’s hard being on an all white-male ticket. Mike really rounds out the diversity angle having that Canuck thing going for him.

FM: Do you think your campaign panders too much to Canadians?

MWM: At the end of the day, it’s the American running for president.

Multimedia