Campaign season is upon the DU campus once more, as students rally around candidates for Undergraduate Student Government (USG). Most prevalent on the campaign trail is the candidates for USG President and Vice President for the 2017-18.
This year, there are three pairs in the running. There is the Murray-Arnett campaign, Smith-Aragon and Harrilchak-Norris. The former two are running in a more traditional sense. Their Clarion letters to the editor were well-written, laying out the many pillars of their platforms and all of their policy intentions. Their rhetoric was typical of American politics, resonating with honor and formality. While this level of professionalism is certainly sophisticated and respectable, there seems to be another campaign on the trail that has taken a different approach, and, arguably, has captured more attention.
The Harrilchak-Norris campaign has taken an approach entirely based on humor which demonstrates that they really know their audience. For some, this has sparked some issues of controversy. For others, it is a refreshing take considering how stiff the political environment is these days. The fact that they steer away from the aforementioned traditional strategies is admirable; the votes do in fact come from 18-22 year-olds on a college campus.
Throughout this week, it has also become clear that many students at DU have little knowledge of exactly what role USG plays on campus, and Harrilchak-Norris seems to recognize this. At the USG debate on April 26, the team admitted that they themselves have had little to do with USG and school politics, and their campaign website confirms that they don’t consider themselves politicians. They do not discuss policies or try to appeal to university administration–their aim is to touch average, uninvolved students, especially those who have never voted for USG before.
The Harrilchak-Norris campaign has been under some scrutiny as to whether or not they even have a campaign platform. With all the jokes, and their letter to the editor that invoked a funny and casual southern tone, it is easy to fall prey to the assumption that they have nothing substantial they are running on.
Contrary to popular belief, Harrilchak and Norris have a clear campaign platform: the “U” platform. Their website states, “We want to hear what YOU care about, and prioritize our time and our efforts to achieve those goals.” They are coming into USG with a blank slate and a focus on highlighting student voices.
From the get-go, they have made it apparent that they want their policy to be centered on the feedback they receive from the student body. They mentioned that they are willing to get in touch in any way, whether it be texts, calls, Facebook, smoke signals, walkie talkies etc. This is just another way they are running on a humor-based campaign, and while they are unorthodox in their lack of concrete policy ideas, they have a genuine interest in hearing from the student body.
The already unconventional campaign became bigger news with their creation of photoshopped images online and across DU’s campus. As posters and pictures for the Harrilchak-Norris campaign, the pair released a series of iconic images from American history and culture with the addition of Harrilchak and Norris artfully photoshopped in. They chose images like the moon landing, the famous image of soldiers raising an American flag at Iwo Jima and the victory over Osama Bin Laden. While some see the alteration of these images as uncomfortable or offensive, it is important to recognize that not everything is so serious, and there is humor and cleverness in these pictures. They portray historic and impactful victories in American history, and from these images, it is clear that Harrilchak and Norris intend to make an impact of similar caliber on DU’s campus. They want to be a part of history, past and future.
This article is not intended to be in support of any candidate. It is just the opposing perspective to what has become a surprisingly controversial student campaign. There are three qualified pairs running for president and vice president, so make your voice heard and vote. Voting closes Friday, April 28 at noon.