Robert G.B. Long ’11 and David R. Johnson ’11 have been dreaming of taking the helm of the Undergraduate Council to steer it towards a brighter future—for all of two weeks.
“We got the sense that the student body was dissatisfied, and only a combination of Long-Johnson could please it,” said Long, UC presidential candidate, in an interview with The Crimson on Friday.
Describing the current UC as “masturbatory,” an arena where “would-be Senators can grand stand,” Long alluded to the two central foundations of the campaign: an expression of humor on a campus criticized for its sober, pre-professional seriousness, and also a genuine—albeit satirical—critique of the student government’s shortcomings.
Last Monday, Long and Johnson—roommates and social studies concentrators—kicked off the campaign season with their enthusiastic cadre of thirteen staffers. The group has certainly aroused interest on campus with their none-too-thinly veiled, innuendo-heavy slogans, entertaining Web presence, and unconventional campaign tactics.
“This is the most serious thing I’ve ever done,” Long said. “It’s the most serious thing Harvard students will see at their time here.”
Current UC President Andrea R. Flores ’10 said she disagreed with the ticket’s claims at seriousness, characterizing the pair as a “very friendly joke ticket” that—unlike some outsider tickets in the past—has not used its platform simply as a sounding board for hostility or belligerence towards the UC.
As seen in past UC elections, a variety of reasons motivate joke tickets to run, despite slim chances of victory, according to Flores. She speculated that Long and Johnson may have been compelled to run in light of their close friendship with UC vice-presidential contender Eric N. Hysen ’11, who lives in an adjacent suite in Mather.
Flores said she has “no sense” of the pair’s actual plans if elected, adding that she thinks they are “enjoying the public attention from their name formation.”
But Long failed to acknowledge the phallic reference latent in the ticket’s name. The only pun that could possibly lie in the name’s reading, he said, is “long johns [underwear] on.” On that note, the pair took off their pants during a recent On Harvard Time interview to proudly showcase their tight undergarments.
“I can see it,” Long said. “Long underwear is funny. But if people want to joke about long johns, they can do it on their own time.”
Humor is undoubtedly a defining element of the ticket. The home page of the campaign’s Web site features Long and Johnson’s faces superimposed over the bodies of UC presidential candidate Johnny F. Bowman ’11 and partner Hysen—but Long denied any connection, calling the similarities “eerie.”
The campaign’s three policy planks are “Liberating the Student Body,” ”Penetrating the Real Issues,” and “Going Deep Inside Budget Cuts.” Long said that the ticket’s two priorities are “Revolution and then J-Term,” the latter bolstered by proposals such as sponsorship of student- and faculty-initiated “mini-courses” and promotion of expanded housing opportunities for arts groups.
Upon receiving a mandate by the UC, Long and Johnson added a disclaimer to the platform page of their site, warning readers that a significant portion of their proposals are a “derivative” of Bowman and Hysen’s platform, and that Long and Johnson “believe our use of it to be fair as parody.”
According to the pair’s site, the Harvard Chess Club and the Harvard Armenian Society have declined to extend their endorsements. These same two groups are listed under a section named, “Groups we will abolish, if elected.”