Wearing a button-down shirt and slacks, a clean-shaven Samuel B. Clark ’15 appeared presidential as he entered Boylston Hall last Wednesday. After politely excusing himself, Clark returned several minutes later alongside running mate Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15—now sporting matching gold, glittering American Apparel jackets.
With the stern look of political office on their faces, the duo sat down to discuss their game plan: to emerge from the shadows of a dark horse candidacy to capture the coveted crowns of Undergraduate Council president and vice president.
“We have absolutely zero experience with anything to do with the UC,” Clark said matter-of-factly. “However, we think that this really is an asset for us more than anything else.”
In a race where gender neutral housing, the efficacy of student voices, and UC funding seem to be the most pressing issues, Clark and Mayopoulos have proposed an outsider agenda. Centered on the promises of tomato basil ravioli soup served daily in the dining halls, thicker toilet paper for all, and “divesting from gender neutral weekend shuttles,” the campaign seeks to usher in a new approach to UC leadership.
Specific issues aside, the glitter-garbed candidates’ campaign posters and Facebook page make a central slogan clear: “You could do worse.”
The relationship between Clark and Mayopoulos is founded on many years of intimacy, the pair said.
“If there’s sex, there’s sex. And if there’s not, there’s not,” Mayopoulos said. The two have been roommates since freshman year and currently share a room in Kirkland House.
“I think their relationship is one of kindred spirits, and deep friendship, and trust, which is important,” said roommate Mark J. Mauriello ’15. “You need that in a team.”
Clark, a social studies concentrator from Denver, Colo., and Mayopoulos, a history concentrator from Charlotte, N.C., have bonded over the years through their shared interest in humor and satire. Best known by students for their comedy work on campus, Clark and Mayopoulos currently serve as co-presidents of On Thin Ice, an on-campus improv comedy troupe. Mayopoulos is also president of Satire V, and Clark is a correspondent for On Harvard Time.
In addition to a plethora of leadership roles, Clark and Mayopoulos also tout their experience founding FUMPER, the Freshman Undergraduate Municipal Police Enforcement Reinforcement, an organization dedicated to stopping rule-breaking bikers in Harvard Yard.
“I wouldn’t call us life savers,” Clark said. “But I would call us certainly life enhancers.”
Both tickets competing with the Kirkland duo bring several years of UC experience to the race, putting the question of Clark and Mayopoulos’ qualifications in the spotlight.
“We’re not the UC insiders. We don’t get to ride in the UC helicopters; we don’t get to go to the UC spas,” Clark said. “UC members only have to take like seven gen eds. We have to take all eight gen eds. We even have to take Science of the Physical Universe.”
The campaign’s origin can be traced to a grievance with the soup choices of Harvard University Dining Services.
“A couple of months ago, I wrote to HUDS on one of the comment cards, and I said, ‘The tomato basil ravioli soup was excellent. I would like to see more of it. I would like it every day.’”
Mayopoulos said his dreams were shattered when a HUDS staff member responded that the dining service was glad he enjoyed the soup, and he could expect to see it again in two weeks.
“It really wasn’t an adequate response, but I really didn’t have any place to turn except for the UC for support,” Mayopoulos said. “And I realized that I was fighting for myself [and] what I believed in. And I realized that I really wasn’t the only person. I think it’s overwhelmingly a very popular soup.”
Recognizing that one political platform cannot win an election, Clark and Mayopoulos created other plans that they believe will win them votes as well. In sharp contrast with other candidates, the pair is advocating for increased toilet paper thickness and an entirely different approach to divestment.
“The thing is that we need to be divesting from more things, we need to be making more things gender neutral, and we need to be shuttling things more on weekends. So why not do it all at the same time?” Clark said. “Divest from gender neutral weekend shuttles.”
A SERIOUS CAMPAIGN
With digital polls opening Monday, Clark and Mayopoulos have been papering the walls of Harvard buildings with campaign posters for several days. Some promote claims such as “more diverse than any other ticket,” while others flaunt their credentials: Clark was the vice president of his high school drama club and is proficient with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, but notably not Excel, according to one poster. Mayopoulos is a U.S. citizen and has all eight toes, according to the poster.
Even Stephen A. Turban ’17, a campaign manager for the rival ticket of C.C. Gong ’15 and Sietse K. Goffard ’15, expressed fondness for Clark and Mayopoulos.
“They’re a meta-satire, which is the coolest thing. It’s the most hilarious joke. I am a huge fan. I am not voting for them, but I think they’re awesome,” Turban said.
But pitted against stiff competition, Clark and Mayopoulos maintained that they have prepared themselves to run a fierce campaign in the face of skeptics.
“I would say to them that if they think that what we’re advocating for is a joke, that’s their prerogative,” Clark said. “But we’re in it to win it.”