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This Week in MIT History

The UMOC contest, sponsored by Alpha Phi Omega, began as the “Ugliest Man on Campus” competition this week in 1953. The idea came to be when an APO brother from another chapter suggested that the MIT chapter might run an “Ugly Man on Campus” competition as a fundraiser for charity. Originally limited to men, the contest's name was changed in 1992 to “Ugliest Manifestation on Campus.” This encouraged women to run, and allowed not-so-ugly people to represent particularly ugly “manifestations” on campus. Some of these have included five-year-old milk from Random Hall (a 1995 and 1998 winner), and “Transparent Horizons” (a statue at the north end of the East Campus courtyard).

Votes are cast by students for a penny each. At the end of the week, the candidate with the highest total of votes wins a small prize, the honor of being UMOC, and right to choose which charity receives the total earnings of the fundraiser.

Often, the UMOC candidates are encouraged to run representing their living group. Random Hall resident Adam C. Powell ’92 bragged of their “fourth UMOC in the last nine ” in a letter to the Tech after the 1995 competition. [“Congratulations to UMOC Victor” November 3, 1995]

Robert D. Warshawer ’54 was the first UMOC winner in December 1953. Cindy C. Helgerson ’70 (1966), the first woman to run for UMOC, sold kisses in Lobby 7 for one dollar and ran with the slogan “I’m not pretty as a man.” Other notable UMOC winners include mid-seventies long term candidates Aqualung and Sadie Bilgewater, “the Hump” and Brian Hughes, “Count UMOC,” who was famous for his vampire costume and coffin in Lobby 10, and 1996 winner Steven E. Jens ’97 (who had lost to the Random Hall milk the previous year by 47 cents).