Martel-Zimmermann: A New Brand of Student Advocacy

Shinn X. Chen

This has been an unprecedented year for the UC. Between the administration’s acceptance of calendar reform, universal freshman dorm swipe access, and even the hasty cancellation and reinstatement of the party fund, this has been a year that will echo throughout the history of student advocacy at Harvard like a dropped tray full of food, clattering to the floor in Annenberg.

I myself was a representative to the venerable Council for a brief period of time, and I am proud to be affiliated with the organization at such a critical juncture in its history. One day, when I tell my children about my experiences at Harvard, they will learn all about my cripplingly low self esteem. But they will also learn how the Undergraduate Council changed the course of student history during my tenure. I believe, for all of our children’s sake, that the best way to continue on this path of change is to elect Frances I Martel ’09 and Leo P. Zimmermann ’09.

Frances and Leo are the only candidates who are radical enough to strike fear into the hearts of the administration. I am personally of the belief that the personalities of the candidates are more important than the platforms, mostly because platforms are comprised of a lot of words, and as an engineering student, I am illiterate. It does not suffice to say that Frances has a strong personality. She is loud, opinionated, and makes enemies faster than an over-eager prefrosh makes Facebook friends. In essence, she is exactly the person that we need to maintain a lively, adversarial relationship with student groups and the college administration. UC meetings would no longer stretch on for hours, decorum would be kept with the help of tasers, and UC skeptics and detractors would vanish in their sleep by her newly established secret police. Her aggressive capitalist tendencies will dominate student group financial matters, forcing student groups to be bold and innovative in order to obtain funds, eventually resulting in mega-conglomerate student groups, such as the Harvard College Baptist Labor Southeast Asian Rugby Advocacy Society A Capella Dance Troupe Association sponsored by the Phillips Brooks House Association and Microsoft.

On the other hand, Leo is like a latter-day Bismarck, possessing the diplomacy and guile needed for dealing with the stubborn Prussian aristocracy (administration) and catering to the landless workers (students) through progressive social reforms (heavy drinking). Leo will use his superior judgment to supplement Frances’s fiery emotional rule, achieving a perfect equilibrium of well-reasoned policy and absolute totalitarianism. Together, I believe that these two candidates comprise the ultimate ticket, a golden ticket, if you will, to University President Drew G. Faust’s kooky factory of poor student relations known as the Harvard College Administration.

Many of you who are critical of the UC election process note that no outside ticket has ever won the UC presidential race. As I pass the 500-word mark, however, I would like to remind you that that fact was most recently reported by The Crimson, which we all know has a longstanding political bias towards the Whig Party, and their “facts” should not be taken at face value. I believe a president without any student government experience whatsoever is something we desperately need. The UC is a highly self-selecting group of people, encompassing a broad range of students who are all brought together by the common desire to yell aimlessly.

A new presidential ticket with which the existing UC members are not familiar would frighten them, perhaps (and I won’t hold my breath, here), into silence. With Frances and Leo in charge, there will surely be a change in pace of the Council’s deliberations; and in the generations to come, their time in office will be remembered as fondly as we remember the administration of U.S. President John Tyler today. If elected, the Martel-Zimmermann ticket will certainly make the UC a more volatile and interesting entity; and for this, I lend them my support.

Matthew T. Valente ’08-’09 is an engineering sciences concentrator in Currier House.