Logan Arkema (COL ’20) and Jonathan Compo (COL ’20) are not like the other candidates running for president and vice president of the Georgetown University Student Association. They go by the names of fictional comic book figures Batman and Robin, wear the characters’ costumes and admit they are hoping they will not win.
With their campaign, Arkema and Compo, a former cartoonist for The Hoya, join a list of past joke candidates who have launched campaigns focused on satirizing rather than winning. In a Saturday interview with The Hoya, Arkema, wearing a full Batman suit and adopting a raspy voice, said the primary goal of his campaign is “comic relief.”
“A lot of students get annoyed with GUSA campaigns,” Arkema said. “It’s nice to provide something that’s a little bit different, that kind of pokes fun at the general campus culture.”
According to Arkema, this year’s candidates bear the same qualities that have frustrated students in the past: They take themselves and their campaigns too seriously and promise too much.
“Not everything needs to be done super seriously. We are college students and if there’s one time to have fun and take life back a little bit, it’s right now,” Arkema said.
Arkema and Compo are running against Hunter Estes (SFS ’19) and Richard Howell (SFS ’19), Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) and Naba Rahman (SFS ’19), and Josh Siriois (SFS ’20) and Casey Doherty (COL ’20). Election day is set for Feb. 22.
Past satirical candidates include a 2016 ticket filed on behalf of two popular sandwiches served at Wisemiller’s grocery store and deli, the Chicken Madness and the Hot Chick. The most recent winning satirical ticket, former GUSA president Joe Luther (COL ’16) and vice president Connor Rohan (COL ’16) originally ran as a satirical ticket in 2015, but developed robust policy platforms on mental health and sexual assault over the course of the campaign.
Arkema also said the other campaigns’ wide-ranging policy platforms — Sirois and Doherty’s platform consists of 24 major planks, while Nair and Rahman’s has 30 — make it difficult for students to discern their true priorities.
Arkema’s campaign declared four significant staff members to the GUSA Election Commission, including the current and former chairpersons of the Georgetown University College Democrats, Maria Cornell (SFS ’20) and Larry Huang (COL ’19). Arkema is membership director of GUCD.
Arkema currently serves as a GUSA senator representing Southwest Quad in the voice and character of Batman; he was elected in the fall running on the sole promise to conduct all official senate business as Batman. Colleagues interviewed by The Hoya say Arkema has held true to his promise, but has also largely taken his work in the senate seriously.
A member of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, a workers’ rights advocacy group, Arkema has focused on labor issues in the senate, meeting weekly with the graduate student unionization drive led by the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees.
“It is possible to take issues that affect us seriously without necessarily taking ourselves with the same level of seriousness,” Arkema said.
While Arkema said GUSA is filled with people who want to see change, he believes many members become more concerned with putting their name on something, inflating their egos or building their resumes than on achieving results. The association also tends to be too insular, Arkema said.
“Everyone mentions these things, all the problems that I’ve listed, but no one takes concrete action to differ from that.”
Arkema clarified that he respects the “vast majority of the candidates currently running” and would be willing to work with whichever ticket wins.
“But I also think that constructive satirical criticism is something that’s worth being engaged in,” Arkema said.
Representatives of two other campaigns — Sirois and Doherty’s and Nair and Rahman’s — have met with Arkema and said they would be open to discussing workers’ rights issues, Arkema said.
Compo, Arkema’s running mate has been with Arkema from the beginning of what they call his Batman “shenanigans.” Compo was the only person listed on Arkema’s senate campaign staff in the fall, and acts as an informal adviser to Arkema in his senate capacity, according to Arkema.
Compo was unavailable Saturday afternoon for an interview with The Hoya.
While Arkema and Compo emphasized they do not want to win, he presented a “victory contingency plan” in case they do; he said it would be “irresponsible” not to be prepared to govern in the unlikely scenario that they are elected.
The contingency plan includes assembling an administration through an “open and transparent application process” for every position. None of the members of their campaign have been promised any positions, according to a flyer summarizing the plan provided to The Hoya. The plan also includes their only serious policy proposal: encouraging professors to use open-source textbooks.
Arkema said he would still conduct most business as Batman, he said he may break character in meetings with administrators or other settings that call for seriousness. And, Arkema added, staying in the Batman voice can be a strain.
“I am very confident that I have lacerated my voice over the past five months,” Arkema said.