|Graphic: Aural Wes|
|Wesleyan students chose Giant Joint over two human competitors for the student assembly.|
Wesleyan University students have elected “Giant Joint” to the student assembly, beating out two human competitors for the seat.
In the election last month, Giant Joint, a consistent vote-getter in representative elections since 2006, finally achieved victory with 416 votes, reports Aviva Markowitz of The Wesleyan Argus.
The genesis of Giant Joint took place in 2006 when Bev Allen, who graduated from the Middletown, Connecticut university in 2008, walked around the campus dressed as a giant joint.
The first year Allen ran for the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) as Giant Joint, she got 50 votes.
What began as a protest against a Student Health Advisory marijuana safety campaign resulted in a new Wesleyan write-in tradition: Giant Joint for WSA.
“I am proud and excited,” Allen said in an email to The Argus. “I definitely wanted Mr. Joint to live on after my graduation.”
Allen originally decided to run her Giant Joint write-in campaign after students started a discussion about ridiculous write-in candidates. She revived her Giant Joint costume for the campaign.
“I just wanted to give Wesleyan students a chance to revel in their apathy and vote for a totally ridiculous candidate,” Allen said in 2006. “People asked me, ‘If you win, will you promise to go to every single board meeting in that costume?’ I was like ‘Yes, of course.'”
Giant Joint’s recent victory, after the graduation of his creator, can be partly attributed to an increase in campaigning on two student-run blogs, Wesleying and Aural Wes during finals week last semester.
Several students who wish to remain anonymous decided last semester to start an actual Giant Joint campaign for the perennial write-in.
|Graphic: Aural Wes|
A mission statement was posted on Aural Wes, fliers were plastered around campus, a Twitter page was established, and campaign posters ran on the Wesleying blog.
“We cannot just keep Wesleyan weird, we must make it weird,” read one Giant Joint campaign statement posted on the Wesleying and Aural Wes blogs.
“Choose adventure over boredom,” the statement read. “We don’t want a change in bosses, we want a change in life.”
Some see a vote for Giant Joint as a vote for marijuana; others as a statement against the WSA or just because it’s funny.
“I think the nice thing is that it can be all of those things,” said Max Lavine, caretaker of Aural Wes. “People see it as a larger anarchist intervention and that’s cool. A lot of people may be like, ‘Oh, that’s funny. I like pot.'”
”Giant Joint is a big-tent politician,” said Ashik Siddique, a Wesleying blogger. “I think most people think it’s funny as a silly Wesleyan tradition. It helps people feel like they are more connected to Wesleyan’s past and traditions. It feels like it’s been around forever.”
“It would be nice if someone changed their name to Giant Joint,” Siddique said. “But ultimately there is no physical avatar of Giant Joint to affect change.”
“The fact that it’s a joke doesn’t mean it’s excluded from making change,” Lavine countered. “The main point is the sheer fact of the campaign itself. Take up things that aren’t that meaningful and use them to shake things up a bit. I see it as more opening up possibilities for people to do things as they see fit.”
“It’s an alternative to apathy; you can do things that change the world around you,” Lavine said.
“You have to be more creative about transformation,” Lavine said. “We’re not trying to overthrow anything, but people get used to habits and disrupting those can provoke people to question certain regularities.”