Campaign advertisements and pleas for votes inundated email inboxes and Facebook feeds this week as 51 College seniors, some serious and others joking, vied to be elected the first or second class marshal for the Class of 2016.
The two students elected to those positions will manage the Senior Class Committee, serve as spokespeople for the senior class, and solicit donations from their classmates for the annual Senior Gift fund, among other responsibilities, this year.
The voting period opened to seniors on Tuesday morning, the start of a 24-hour period. The candidates who receive the two highest vote totals will be named first and second marshal, respectively, on Friday.
Students will elect six more class representatives, called program marshals, in a separate election scheduled for next week. That is a departure from previous years, when first, second, and program marshals were elected from the same pool of applicants in the same round of voting.
Dozens of seniors regularly clamor to run to represent their class on the Senior Class Committee, and on schedule, eager members of the Class of 2016 have mounted their own campaigns, creating Facebook events and sending mass email messages calling for their classmates' support.
But while many candidates have promoted serious platforms and goals, a slew of improvised, comical campaigns have also emerged.
One Facebook page, titled “Trump for Senior Class Marshal,” promises to “make the Harvard Class of 2016 great again.” Another online page promoting Connor M. Harris ’16, who is not in fact an actual candidate, advertises an array of humorous policy proposals, such as “Reinstitut[ing] the swimming test.” “Every failed attempt reduces the pH of the pool by 0.5,” the page declares.
Harkening back to last year’s election, one group of seniors created a page dedicated to promoting the reelection of Sietse K. Goffard ’15, the first marshal of last year's senior class. Goffard, also a former Undergraduate Council vice president, described himself as “flattered, amused, and definitely a little shocked” by the suggestion. He added that he looked forward to his “impending victory” in the contest.
Among the candidates officially on the ballot, Allejah T. Franco ’16 said he did not initially intend to mount a serious campaign. Although he signed a statement of candidacy at the urging of his friends, he said he was shocked to see campus covered with posters promoting his campaign soon afterwards. Julianna R. Aucoin ’16, along with other members of Franco’s rooming group, discretely organized the thorough effort in what she said began as an attempt to surprise their friend but soon developed into a potentially winning campaign.
“We noticed that it’s so much easier for us to be overly promoting when it's not about us,” Aucoin said. “It’s super obnoxious if someone were to have a website, have a Twitter, have that many posts in a Facebook group that they were serious, but when you use humor that way, it becomes fun, rather than annoying.”
The number of candidates are up for election this year is on par with last year, when 52 students ran for the positions. But with a new voting system in place, it is difficult to directly compare the two election cycles, said Clint D. Ficula, assistant director of the College Alumni Programs at Harvard Alumni Association.
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