This is nuts: A squirrel named "Furry Boi" has won a student government election at UC Berkeley. On April 13, he was elected for one of the 20 seats in the Associated Students of the University of California Senate.
His campaign platform? According to the LA Times, a "safe spaces for squirrels, better access to acorns and support groups for those experiencing habitat loss."
Sophomore Stephen Boyle of Stockton, California created the candidate as a joke but students soon backed the small mammal. Boyle, who has started wearing a squirrel suit, plans to take the seat.
On April 16, he wrote on the Furry Boi Facebook page:
I want to say thank you to all of the people who have helped me get elected. I could not have become a senator-elect without all of you. Whether a conversation on sproul, a speech I gave at your said organization, or just the fact my name was Furry Boi on the ballot and am a "squirrel," every vote I received from you all allowed me to be one of eight candidates to hit quota. I know many of you voted for me because I made it so it was sort of click bait. The name is funny. It engenders the question of whether I am actually a furry or not and makes you wonder whether I bought my dope ass squirrel suit from Amazon for personal or political reasons. Now I will let you extrapolate answers to those potential questions yourselves, but the question I will answer is this one: "What will you even do as senator?"…
Boyle goes on to say that he plans to promote campus sustainability by getting Cal to "declare war on food waste.' He also hopes to increase visibility for schoolwide disability/mental illness programs and enhance school spirit with community programs.
A backlash on campus happened quickly. The editorial board of the university's newspaper, The Daily Californian, expressed their disappointment in an Op-Ed piece on April 17:
Congratulations, UC Berkeley students: You've just elected a squirrel to represent you…
It's a shocking display of privilege to vote for a squirrel over candidates who have actual plans to help students who need it. Instead of electing qualified students who had real, tangible ideas — improving UCPD relations, boosting housing, bolstering sexual violence or mental health awareness — many of you (at least 538 strong) thought it might be a funny joke to have a man dressed up in a squirrel costume with no real platforms represent you at the administrative table.
On a campus where roughly 20 percent of undergraduate students are transfers, instead of a single transfer representative in next year's senate class, there's a squirrel. Without a representative, there's no guarantee that anyone in the ASUC will work to directly improve the transfer student experience in the coming school year.
Just as in national, state and city elections, it's critical for student voters to be informed. But this ASUC election season showed that students just vote for the latest meme trend.
On April 23, the 19-year-old was interviewed on KRON, "On campus, I've kind of become an icon."