Powell and 8.01 Ride Win UMOk Amid ControversyBy Kathy Lin
Joshua W. Powell ’06 and 8.01 The Ride, the roller coaster constructed in the East Campus courtyard during Orientation, won the Ultimate Manifestation of hardkOre competition run by Alpha Phi Omega amidst controversy over the chosen charity of second place winner Kimberly A. Ang ’05, Planned Parenthood.
UMOk, which ran last week, is a charity competition in which anyone can vote for the UMOk candidate he considers the most “hardkOre” by donating money to the jar designated to that candidate. At the end of the competition, all the money collected is donated to the charity of the winning candidate’s choice.
Because Powell won, the $1077.78 collected during the week will be donated to his charity of choice, the International Foundation for Terror Act Victims.
If Ang had won, that money would have been donated to Planned Parenthood, to the chagrin of some MIT Pro-Life members. Some people “were very concerned about that because Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion provider,” said MIT Pro-Life President Kevin J. DiGenova ’07.
On the last day of the competition, Joel Fernandez ’06 noticed that Ang “had pulled into a pretty big lead,” so he “tried to organize something” to keep her from winning and all the money from going to Planned Parenthood, he said.
Although there was no official MIT Pro-Life action, Fernandez sent an e-mail to a pro-life discussion list, which “naturally he thought would be a good audience,” said Tamarleigh G. Lippegrenfell, a publications editor in the Materials Processing Center who had recently joined the discussion list.
Some Pro-Life members were concerned that all money donated could potentially go to Planned Parenthood, DiGenova said. “Rather than complain and make a big fuss, they decided to donate money,” he said.
Fernandez said he felt that “on such late notice, we wouldn’t be able to pull enough people together” to make a difference. He also could not stay until the competition ended, so he gave $100 of his own money to Lippegrenfell with instructions to put the money in the jar of the candidate who appeared to be closest to beating Ang, he said.
Lippegrenfell put the $100 in the jar for Andrew G. “Zoz” Brooks G with less than one minute less in the competition, but Brooks ended up coming in third, even with the $100 donation.
Fernandez said he heard that someone dropped “a wad of cash including several $20’s” into the jar for Powell and 8.01 The Ride “a few seconds before the competition ended,” which caused the change in place.
“Apparently a miracle happened and this guy Josh won,” Lippengrenfell said. “We looked into Josh’s charity, and I’m pleased to say they’re a charity that seems to help children, which is much better,” she said.
“I personally did not intend for a controversy to happen,” Ang said, “but I’m glad it did, not because I wanted it to add controversy to UMOk, but because I thought it was really excellent that people got involved.”
“The funny thing was, I had people talk to me and say ‘Wow, you’re that person that Pro-life hates,’ and they were people I had never really talked to before,” she said.
Ang said she heard that “people from [East Campus] ran up and dumped money into my jar” once they found out about Pro-life’s plans. In a sense, “Pro-life publicity was also publicity for me,” she said.
She that for future UMOk competitions, she is considering the platform of “If you don’t like me, you can still [vote for me] because it would tick off Pro-life.”
“I make sure to smile and wave at the people at the Pro-life booth now, although I’m not sure they enjoy that,” she said.