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In Praise Of Ugliness

Students Vie for Top Honors as UMOC

By Mike Hall

The eyes of the odd have once again been cast upon MIT’s ugly side in celebration of the 47th annual Ugliest Manifestation on Campus contest, sponsored by the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity.

“The world is an ugly place. People should appreciate it,” said Carolyn Jones ’00, APO vice president for membership. Jones is one of the student organizers for UMOC, a charitable fundraiser.

The tradition of UMOC began in 1953, when the contest was known as the “Ugliest Man on Campus.” Back then, “ugly” men would canvass the campus, urging fellow classmates to support their unattractiveness. Despite the contest’s title, a woman ran for the first time in 1966 and convincingly won the election. The title was changed in 1992, according to UMOC candidates chairman Sara C. Barron ’02, to reflect “increased candidacy by inanimate objects.”

As in years past, the candidates for UMOC offer an eclectic assortment of voting potential. Two of this year’s four declared candidates are running on their own merits: David Z. Maze ’00 and Alice A. Enevoldsen ’03. Maze’s charity is the Pine Street Inn and Enevoldsen’s charity is Horizons Day Care.

Christopher D. Beland ’00 is sponsoring the candidacy of the Residential System Steering Committee housing controversy. His charity is the Homeless Empowerment Project. Boris Zbarsky ’01 of Random Hall has sponsored the Random Hall Milk, described by Barron as “a carton of milk [Random Hall] has had for the last five years.” Zbarsky’s charity is the Jimmy Fund.

The method of voting has remained the same since 1953. The student body votes with their pocketbooks, contributing to the candidate deemed ugliest at UMOC’s Lobby 10 booth. At the end of the competition, the candidate receiving the most money is declared “Ugliest Manifestation on Campus.” The winner’s charity receives all the contributions donated during the competition.

As in most elections, voters can write-in candidates for UMOC. After the first day of campaigning, five write-in candidates were nominated by students as the real ugliest object at MIT. Highlighting the write-in nominations was a $2.00 nomination for the Russian House kitchen. Mark D. Knobel ’00, vice president of Russian House, admitted that the kitchen would have deserved the title in years past, but argued that “it is looking a lot better [now] than when it could’ve won the contest.”

Some passers-by questioned the nature of the contest, stating that MIT as a whole is the only legitimate candidate. As of this report, the entire Institute had not yet been nominated.

Regardless of the outcome, UMOC offers the MIT community a chance to express its appreciation for the ugliness of others.