With an air of majesty rivaling that of Elizabeth I, Jake “The First” Fineman and his procession of knights and squires gathered on Sproul Plaza to proclaim His Greatness as the divinely ordained monarch of campus.
His Royal Highness, Jake I of the House of Fineman, by the Grace of God, of the Kingdom of the University of California, Berkeley, Lord of the Realm, Defender of the Golden Bear, Protector of the Clark Kerr Campus, Most Illustrious Sovereign of the Valley of the Life Sciences, Grand Duke of the Northern Gate, Mother of Dragons and Imperial Overlord of the College of Letters and Sciences, is running for ASUC president with a platform of feudalism and imperialism.
As creative director of SQUELCH! and current external relations director of Theater for Charity, Fineman, who said he is endorsed by God, declared that he is “the rightful heir of UC Berkeley campus.” Indeed, friends of Fineman unanimously conceded that he possesses kingly grace.
“It’s the crown,” said Madison Gordon, a member of SQUELCH! and thespian in Theater for Charity. “The crown and the cape — they just make you want to bow down.”
Casey Berkovitz, SQUELCH! party chair, said they weren’t “totally sold on the concept, but eventually the supremacy of His Highness convinced us.”
His Royal Highness’s platforms show no love of democracy. Fineman pledged to abolish the ASUC Senate and establish a system of feudalism in its place. A line of noble lords, he envisioned, would swear fealty to the House of Fineman in exchange for a gift of land. Students would become serfs under the governance of the lords, entering into a social contract by yielding a portion of their harvest for protection by knights.
But realizing Fineman’s vision may not be as simple as a decree. According to Senate Vice Chair Alek Klimek, abolishing the senate would require passing a constitutional amendment through the senate before being ratified through a referendum passed by the student body. If successful, the change would not be effective until the academic year 2016-17.
Other platforms Fineman proposes include a doctrine of militaristic imperialism, which holds that the campus has the right and duty to forcibly conquer other UC campuses. Such a doctrine is designed to improve campus climate by uniting all factions against a “common enemy,” Fineman explained.
“He would rule with an iron fist,” said Favio Tello, a thespian at Theater for Charity. “But also with a heart of gold.”
The king is the first satirical candidate for president in several years. Traditionally, SQUELCH! ran one serious senate candidate alongside multiple satirical executive candidates but has recently only run serious candidates to gain credibility and avoid confusion between its real and satirical slates. Fineman decided it was “time to bring the humor back” — but not just for the sake of entertainment.
Beneath the sapphire cape, turquoise breeches and bejeweled crown atop his royal crimson locks is a student engaged in commentary about the ASUC. To Fineman, the entire monarchical persona he created pokes fun at the campus’s attitude toward presidential candidates during elections.
“People on campus think the president position is the be all and end all of campus politics,” Fineman said. “And that’s clearly not true.”
All of Fineman’s satirical platforms intimate real problems he sees in the ASUC. His imperialistic policy parodies what he believes to be an overused yet elusive phrase – “improving campus climate” — while the ordination of feudalism is meant to challenge partisanship in campus politics.
By satirizing these issues, Fineman not only hopes to encourage more cooperation among campus political parties, but is also committed to livening up the campaign season. In this way, Fineman imagines himself as a vessel through which other candidate platforms can become more accessible to students and get their share of attention.
“Campaigning is probably the most hated part of the ASUC elections by students,” said Fineman, who felt that students would be more likely to vote if the campaigning process felt more engaging.
Fineman participated in designing the characters for SQUELCH!’s satirical executive slate. Each of the candidates’ personas is meant to satirize other common characteristics of ASUC elections, such as Tom “Silent Majority” Yang, a mime running for executive vice president who hopes to represent students on campus who do not vote or voice their opinions.
“(Fineman) is so dedicated and energetic,” said SQUELCH! party chair Emily Truax. “You can always see him on Sproul; he just constantly comes up with new ideas.”
The 2015-16 ASUC elections will take place April 7, 8 and 9.