Students Compete to Be Ugliest ManBy Deena S. Disraelly
Students began casting their votes for the Ugliest Man On Campus yesterday in Lobby 10. Alpha Phi Omega, MIT's service fraternity, sponsors the annual contest to raise money for charity.
Students vote for the candidate of their choice as many times as they want, or until they run out of change -- each vote costs a penny. Candidates run for the title of UMOC, as well as other prizes, which include gift certificates. Despite the contest's title, women can compete as well.
All the money raised by the UMOC contest will be donated to a charity chosen by the winner. This living groups an opportunity to support their particular philanthropic organization, if they have one. In the past, the money raised has been given to a charity designated by APO. Last year the money was given to City Year, a community service group.
"I think that it's the most important fund-raiser we have during the year. It's important to me to get the student body here at MIT involved, and it's fun. I mean, the point of UMOC is not to put anyone down; the point is to raise money and have fun doing it," said UMOC Project Chair Crystal K. Reul '94.
"A kind of cool thing is people can write in candidates who they think are particularly ugly, either physically or otherwise. Ugliness is not just skin-deep," Reul said. Write-in candidates who receive 200 votes (earn $2.00) are asked to run, Reul explained.
This year's candidates
As of yesterday, the only declared candidate was Haider A. Hamoudi '93. Hamoudi, a Random Hall resident, hopes to continue a budding dormitory tradition: in the past four years, Random Hall's candidates have won UMOC three times.
Jeanne A. Thienprasit '95, another Random resident, used her change to vote for Hamoudi yesterday. "He's our house president, and he deserves to win. I mean, he's fully qualified," she said.
Other soon-to-be candidates have not yet picked up their registration forms, but intend to run.
"I've run for UMOC every year I've been here, and I figured why stop now," said Mark S. Rousculp '94, who will be participating in the contest for the third time. Rousculp admitted he was ugly and added, "Even my girlfriend says I'm ugly."
Rousculp ran for UMOC his freshman year because his friends in German House told him to. His sophomore year he ran as a group with Thomas C. Bruno '94 and Christopher M. Montgomery '93. They called themselves "The Bernice."
"It was named after a bonsai tree that one of us had," he said. Rousculp hopes to win at least once before he completes his undergraduate years at MIT. "I should get some sort of credit for trying to be that ugly that many times," he said.
Douglas B. Quayle '94 is also running for UMOC, representing Sigma Phi Epsilon. "I was nominated [by my house]. I don't believe anyone else in the house wanted to run. I was pretty much the chosen one," he said.
"[Quayle] pretty much got dragged into it by me and some of the other guys in the house. He's being a good sport about it," said John E. Peichert '94, Quayle's campaign and community relations person. "There's no doubt in our minds that he is the ugliest man on campus and deserves to win," Peichert added.
In the past, students have extended themselves in their campaigning efforts. Last year, a student ran as "The Tick," a comic book character, and wandered around campus in the character's costume.
"I have a campaign pledge to attend a study break at Random Hall dressed as a woman. This one girl offered to dress me up in her wardrobe, and I agreed if I were to raise $400 and to win," Hamoudi said. He has also gone around "collecting money from anyone who has it," he said. Additionally, Hamoudi has postered "The Top Ten Reasons to Vote for Haider as UMOC" all over campus.
Peichert plans to poster for Quayle, but said that he has only one main strategy. "We're just going to take him out in public, and we figure once people see him, they too will realize how ugly he is."
Rousculp will campaign this year as he has done in the past: "I will draw some strange posters and stick them in strange places," he said.
The first UMOC contest was held 39 years ago, when an APO brother proposed the idea and then ran to encourage others to participate. Now APO brothers are not allowed to enter the contest.
Brothers still participate in the contest as vote-takers and ballot-talliers. APO member Ping-Shun Huang '94, who worked during UMOC last year, said, "Working the UMOC booth can involve fun and intrigue. I'll never divulge who put a $50 bill into one of the jars last year on the last day -- she wanted to stay anonymous."
Voting will continue until Oct. 29. Later that evening the winner will be announced. "A lot of times it comes down to the last day as to who's going to be the winner. ... Sometimes, it's a really close race, kind of fun, kind of exciting," Reul said.