A year after Harvard’s student body voted for an Undergraduate Council ticket that promised to “Demand Relevance,” and in a year when students elected a ticket running under the slogan “You could do worse,” undergraduates reflected on what the first-ever-winning joke ticket means for student government at Harvard.
“It just goes to show how disconnected [UC representatives] are with everyone and everything,” said Nathaniel S. Hay ’15.
The UC Election Commission announced late Thursday night that Samuel B. Clark ’15 and Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15 had won the UC presidential election by a margin of more than 150 votes. The ticket declared their plans to resign immediately after that announcement, and the UC will elect a new president and vice president internally if Clark and Mayopoulos follow through with that resignation during the Council’s inauguration on Dec. 8.
Throughout the campaign, Clark and Mayopoulos garnered enthusiasm and support from the Harvard student body through humorous posters and jokes. Running under two goals–that tomato basil ravioli soup be served daily and that thicker toilet paper be made available to students–the team frequently emphasized their total lack of experience with the UC.
Sayantan Deb ’14, who voted for Clark and Mayopoulos, said he expected that the ticket would win all along because of the bond they were able to form with the student community.
“I think part of it came from just them being more visible,” Deb said.
Clark, a correspondent for comedy group On Harvard Time, made headlines last week outside of his successful UC presidential campaign. On Harvard Time’s Harvard-Yale parody video, which features Clark giving a fake tour of Yale, received national attention from organizations including Huffington Post and USA Today. After Clark and Mayopoulos announced their plans to resign, the popular entertainment website “BroBible” declared that “The Harvard Bros Who Pranked Yale Pulled an Even Bigger Prank on HARVARD.”
But on campus, sentiment was at times more subdued. After the release of the election results on Thursday, Chika-Dike O. Nwokike ’15, one of the two other candidates for UC president, expressed disappointment in the student voters’ decision.
“It really shows a lack of confidence with the Council and our efforts, and I really wish that wasn’t the case because we do do everything for the students,” he said.
In contrast, Tim R. Hwang ’08, who ran a joke candidacy unsuccessfully in 2006, said he was “absolutely thrilled” by the Clark-Mayopoulos victory.
“It’s great to finally see a joke candidacy like that rise to the commanding heights of the Undergraduate Council. It brought a tear to my eye,” Hwang said.
Hwang said he thinks that the UC is taken too sincerely at Harvard. He added that he thinks the UC often attracts only future aspiring politicians to its presidency, resulting in a body “divorced from usual student life.”
Despite varying views on what the duo’s win means for the UC, both supporters and critics of the ticket expressed disapproval at the planned resignation.
“What would they do if they didn’t resign? Not much. What are they going to do if they resign? Not much either,” said Hay.
Deb said he wished they would not resign because he believes that more than past candidates, the two are connected to the student body.
Hwang said that although he had planned to remain in office if he had won in 2006, he admires and respects the decision of Clark and Mayopoulos not to do the same.
“From one revolutionary candidacy to another, I totally respect their choice, and I cheer them on,” he said.