As the frigid month of February infused Frosh Quad with heightened expectations of warmth and affection, I, oblivious to all things romantic, perceived a number of entirely unrelated changes to my abode. The squirrels, my beloved critter comrades who had been in deep hibernation throughout Winter Study, could again be seen popping their heads out of their cylindrical and foul-smelling trash can dwellings. Snow creatures had taken up temporary residence in the Frosh Quad, tenuously holding on to the below-freezing weather, while puddles from melted snow soaked the better half of my not-too-shabby shoe collection. But unlike the aforementioned changes, the alteration that I found greatest had little (not nothing) to do with the natural environment. It was the rapid spawning, and even quicker multiplication, of Freshman Rep campaign signs littering – nay, blanketing is more appropriate – the stairwells of entries.
“Call me a war-ox, but I think some of the candidates were sacrificing the health of our beautiful trees for self-promotion,” said Frosh Quad Junior Advisor Ethan Timmins-Schiffman ’10. “Some, if not all, of the candidates were a little overzealous in their poster campaigning.”
By the time the voting opened last Wednesday, the “overzealous” profusion of signs had succeeded in changing the whole complexion of my home. Seeing as the pervasive signs so quickly and effectively entered my domain, I deemed a closer examination necessary.
“I just wanted to cover as much ground as possible,” said Charlotte Kiechel ’12, one of five candidates who ran for the position of Representative for the Class of 2012 to College Council. “I printed out about 300 signs and tried to keep them lighthearted and fun.” While her poster, featuring her beaming smile on top of the caption “Want some more fun in your life?” lacked political substance, Kiechel was not overly concerned. “It’s not like a presidential race where you’d have a slogan like, Ã¢â‚¬ËœCharlotte has the stuff to bring the Class of 2012 into the future,”” Kiechel said lightheartedly. “In the end, people vote for the person, not the promises.”
Along the same lines, Sam Jonynas ’12 and Sara Wallace ’12 also adopted unconventional campaign sign strategies. Jonynas used his campaign posters to list an array of campaign initiatives, such as the creation of a year-round petting zoo on Paresky lawn, bouncy-bounce style classrooms and peace in the Middle East, that upon closer look reveal themselves as “campaign promises that he actually can’t keep.” “The funny signs were kind of my Hail Mary pass. I thought that people would say Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfunny sign!’ and then vote for me,” Jonynas said. “That’s just not the truth though.”
Wallace’s signs were similarly pioneering and unusual. One of her posters featured a picture of herself possibly in the act of dancing (I’m not entirely certain), with a subheading that asked the now familiar question, “Do you like to dance?” While the posters garnered may not have been universally understood, many applauded the signs for their originality and boldness. “She was trying to send a fun message, but some people took it, as – some people just didn’t understand,” said Dorothy Macausland ’12, Wallace’s friend. “They just didn’t know the personality behind the photos.”
Newton Davis ’12, the candidate who eventually rose above others and was elected into office, chose a very different tactic with his signs. He sought to represent one solitary principle: class. “I’ve done the whole high school thing before, the funny, joking campaign, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Davis said. “But for this race I wanted to go classy.” Davis’ simple but aesthetic poster presented posed shots of himself modeling on campus. Furthermore, his posters stood out in an additional way. “I did have an advantage, my posters were black. Everyone else had white posters.”
The most dynamic and original poster campaign, however, was not the orchestration of the eventual victor. “She really got people’s attention,” Davis said of his former adversary, Ivette Stanziola ’12. “My posters were definitely cool, but if I had to say someone who captivated the freshman class with their posters, I’d have to say Ivette did.”
Stanziola’s comprehensive campaign included fluorescently colored posters, door-handle signs with detachable, perforated business cards and bathroom mirror signs that assumedly told bathroom visitors that they were staring at someone who voted for Ivette Stanziola. “I really tried to aim for originality,” Stanziola said. “And I feel that I put my name out there in a pretty new way.”
Not to the contrary, but still important to note, are reports of some first-years not having been able to see themselves in the mirror over the signs, perhaps a cause for discontent for some. Others were a little taken aback by the lavatory announcement. “I was brushing my teeth one morning, and the truth was revealed to me,” Jackie Pineda ’12 said playfully. “I had no idea I was going to vote for Ivette!”
The interesting mÃƒÂ©lange of posters feverishly covered my stairwell in a mere few days, but no sooner had the results been announced than the signs faded into obscurity. Before we permanently delete the race from our collective minds, however, I beg that we reflect and glean an important lesson from the whole affair. In the end, it wasn’t the person with the best, funniest, most widespread or even clever poster that won. As Sam Jonynas told me, “I don’t think any of the signs swayed the vote, which is a shame, considering all the trees that had to be cut down.” The next time elections role around, maybe instead of declaring an all-out assault on the Berkshire forests, we can seek other means to get our names into mouths of the student populace.