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Current UM0K Donations Less Than Last Year’s Sum

By Seema Kacker

You know you’re at MIT when you name majors by number, get to class via the Infinite Corridor, and have the chance to watch liquid nitrogen-frozen pumpkins be dropped off the Green Building the night before Halloween. You definitely know you’re at MIT when you’re competing for the title of “hardk0re” against a Course 7 and 10 double major senior who is taking more than 100 units this term, minoring in biomedical engineering and literature, and has 14 publications to date.

This week, seven individuals are competing for this very title of “Ultimate Manifestation of Hardk0re (UM0K),” one of Alpha Phi Omega’s annual charity events. The event has raised $240.76 as of yesterday evening, significantly less than the grand total last year of $1077.78 with one day left to catch up — voting closes today at 5 p.m.

According to APO member Kelsey J. Byers ’07, “hardk0re” is exhibited by “anyone who takes behaviors to an extreme that other people would consider to be insane.”

Competitors can be nominated or nominate themselves, and may include objects, according to official rules from APO. Each candidate represents a charity, and anyone can vote by placing money in one of the candidate’s jars, on display this week in Lobby 10. At the end, all the money is donated to the charity chosen by the winner, the individual or object with the most votes.

As of Thursday, Orian Z. Welling ’08, who biked from Alaska to the tip of Argentina, was in the lead by about $24. Welling is representing Bikes Not Bombs and competing alongside six other candidates: Michael Shaw ’07, Max Power from the Simpsons, Brandon S. “Tingle” Moore ’09, the East Campus-created Water-Slide, “Your Mom,” and George M. Eng ’06.

Shaw is the director of the Educational Studies Program and representing the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Power was nominated by Hanna S. Kuznetsov ’09 and is representing Clean Water Action. Moore, who appears to be running for a cause rather than k0reness, is representing the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation because “cancer is not hardk0re,” according to his petition form.

The Water Slide, East Campus’s big Orientation construction of this year, was nominated by Harvey C. Jones ’06 and representing the Second Harvest Food Bank. “Your Mom” was nominated by senior Alevtina Asarina and also represents the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The final candidate, senior George Eng, who has four patents in addition to his 14 publications, is representing a Lou Gehrig’s disease research foundation. Voters can also chose to donate money to anonymous or write-in candidates.

UM0K began as APO’s nation-wide “Ugliest Man on Campus” service project, but according to APO’s Web site, only a few chapters other than MIT’s are still running it. The title was later changed to the “Ugliest Manifestation on Campus” after a female student ran and won the last “Ugliest Man on Campus.”

Last year, in an attempt to try something new and reverse a decline in donations, the competition was further changed to its current title, said Byers. “People got bored, and there were slightly lower totals. We just saw the same old, same old, and we wanted to get something fresh,” she said.

Last year’s event raised significantly more money than usual, mostly due to a controversy spurred by a candidate, Kimberly A. Ang ’05, running for Planned Parenthood, and votes entered to prevent her from winning. “Last year was pretty unusual in that we had a pro-choice person campaigning right next to a pro-life booth. The situation was quite amusing,” said Byers.

East Campus’ 8.01 roller coaster “The Ride” ended up with last year’s win and $1077.78 donated to the International Foundation for Terror Act Victims.

A similar controversy hasn’t arisen this year, according to APO member Ashley K. Turza ’08, who is also a cartoonist for The Tech. “The Planned Parenthood controversy was just kind of serendipity for us. The controversy generated a lot of money. If we could somehow get what we had last year that’d be awesome … The total this year seems like it will be less than last time. It’s kind of disappointing,” she said.