In a sign that Americans may have had it with human candidates, a squirrel has won a seat in the University of California, Berkeley, student senate. And that’s driving some people nuts.
Thirty-seven candidates ran for 20 student spots in this month’s election to the Associated Students of the University of California, including “Furry Boi.” His so-called human proxy is sophomore Stephen Boyle, who wore a squirrel costume to campaign as Furry Boi.
The student senate can affect critical university issues, such as tuition hikes and sexual harassment policies.
Furry Boi’s candidacy was announced on Facebook last month. The post said the squirrel had been conceived in the campus eucalyptus grove and hoped to “represent the squirrel community in the UC Berkeley political sphere.”
Furry Boi’s “platform” included more access to acorns, creating a squirrel sidekick mascot named Nutty McNut Nut for increased biodiversity, encouraging “safe spaces” for students and squirrels, and launching the Amicable Student Society, or ASS, to “bridge the culture gap between humans and squirrels.” Furry Boi also said he hoped to create squirrel “cuisine stations” in all dining halls and make lecture halls “squirrel accessible.” His most popular hashtags were #I’mWithFur and #WhyNut.
Boyle “came out” as Furry Boi on Facebook just after the votes were in, and posted a long, rambling platform of human-friendly issues, including support for campus sustainability measures, and more sensitivity about disabilities and mental illness.
Not everyone was laughing. The campus newspaper The Daily Californian ripped students for electing Furry Boi, calling it a “travesty.”
“You voted for a squirrel; we’re disappointed,” an editorial said. “It’s a shocking display of privilege to vote for a squirrel over candidates who have actual plans to help students who need it. Instead of electing qualified students who had real, tangible ideas ... many of you (at least 538 strong) thought it might be a funny joke to have a man dressed up in a squirrel costume with no real platforms represent you.”
Others said Furry Boi was a dissident choice. Several anonymous commenters to the student paper said a vote for Furry Boi sent a message about disillusionment with student government.