A few weeks ago, Biff Bobcat, the Exponent’s own on-camera puppet reporter, announced his candidacy for student body president in front of over 1,000 students during MSU’s Condom Fashion Show.
He’s not officially on the ballot, but that hasn’t stopped him from staging “Biff 2013” as a write-in campaign. This is the real deal: Biff wants to earn your vote.
I don’t quite know what Biff stands for — then again, I’m often not sure what the human candidates stand for, either. But in a campaign in which the candidates’ views can be hard to distinguish, Biff does stands out.
Talking to Biff, I get the sense that he’s less concerned about raising voter turnout than improving the discourse in student government. Biff has a lot to learn, like the fact that ASMSU’s budget is $1.8 million — not billion — dollars, but let’s humor the young bobkitten for a moment.
Biff’s job, for the past two years, has been to seek out students and ask them what they think. Who better to represent the students’ voice than the bobcat who holds regular “Word on the Street” interviews around campus?
Biff’s trump card is his bobcat pride. No candidate’s claim to school spirit can match that of a real bobcat reporter who has blue and gold running through his veins.
I hope that by caricaturing the process Biff can bring some of the problems of student government elections into clearer view — like how the president works with MSU and state administration, how ASMSU can be worth students’ attention and how it can be accountable for its decisions.
If being ASMSU president is about advocating for students, how does the president understand the role? How will he/she determine what students want, or what decisions are in their best interest? Biff, a candidate who is tired of “puppets for the administration” and wants students to “have a hand” in everything he does, can bring these questions to light.
I should, of course, make clear that no student fees are being used to fund Biff’s campaign. All supplies and labor have been donated by volunteers (I am one such volunteer).
Now, to address the million (billion?) dollar question: Is a vote for Biff a vote wasted?
Maybe. But consider this: A friend told me he tried to vote for Biff in Tuesday’s primary, but the ballot had no write-in option. So he chose a candidate at random. His choice was Dillon Haskell, who advanced to the general election by a margin of — you guessed it — one vote.
So, it’s hard to obstruct a process that already lacks information, participation and sanctity.
By all means, I encourage readers to learn about the viewpoints of Lindsay Murdock and Dillon Haskell. The Exponent has published thorough interviews online at msuexponent.com, and ASMSU posts short biographies at montana.edu/asmsu/elections. If you’re reading this column hot-off-the-press, the candidates will debate at noon on Feb. 28.
If, after “getting engaged,” you are not impressed by either candidate, perhaps a vote for Biff isn’t a wasted vote at all.
Given this, I’m still not sure who I’ll be voting for next week. Are you?