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Fake candidate Karlos Marks wins MSA seats

Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 27, 2011

Despite his apparent popularity among the student body, Karlos Marks — a fictional write-in candidate in last Thursday’s Michigan Student Assembly and LSA Student Government elections — is ineligible to hold office on campus.

Marks received 520 votes for the position of MSA president, earning the second-highest number of votes in the category and placing him ahead of candidates LSA freshman Briana Hatcher and LSA sophomore Lena Cintron of the Defend Affirmative Action Party by 68 votes. LSA juniors DeAndree Watson and Brendan Campbell of the MForward Party earned 2,319 votes and will become the next MSA president and vice president, respectively.

Results show that Marks and other variations of his name, including Karlos Marx, Karlos Markus and Carlos Marx, received votes for MSA representative positions within the Ross School of Business, College of Engineering and Rackham Graduate School, among others.

Marks also received 132 votes for a spot on the Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee — an advisory body which hears grievances filed against DPS — technically qualifying him for the second student-held spot on the six-person committee. LSA junior Ellen Steele, who ran uncontested, will hold the first student seat.

LSA junior Breah Patterson, elections director for MSA, said since Marks is not an enrolled student, he is ineligible for a spot on the DPS Oversight Committee.

The second student currently on the committee will be graduating this spring. To fill the position, MSA planned to choose a write-in candidate with the most amount of votes, since the election was uncontested.

It is likely, Patterson said, that the position will be fulfilled by LSA junior Michael Pry, a write-in candidate who earned 12 votes, which was the fourth-highest number of votes in the category.

The most recent version of the MSA constitution states,“No representative may run for election or hold office representing a constituency of which that person is not a member.” Additionally, students cannot run for positions under aliases, though Marks does not appear to be an alias, Patterson said.

However, DPS Oversight Committee procedure documents do not explicitly outlaw certain students, fictional or real, from holding positions.

The Every Three Weekly, a satire publication on campus, began endorsing Marks as a write-in candidate for MSA president this month in an effort to demonstrate its dissatisfaction with MSA and its governing.

Campbell said he was not surprised by the attention Marks received and feels that the fictional character’s popularity was due to student frustration with MSA.

“I expected that write-in candidates receive quite a few votes because students are rightfully frustrated with an assembly that is not as active as it could be and is not as aggressive in publicizing its own successes,” he said.

Campbell said that when he takes office he hopes to make the government more reflective of student needs.

"I'm really looking forward to taking my experience and my knowledge and applying those principles to the assembly in hopes of making the Michigan Student Assembly a better advocate and a more aggressive force for change on campus," Campbell said.

Despite frustration from students, Campbell added that he believes MSA has made progress this year.

"I think too few students recognize the great things MSA has done over the past year, from dramatically changing the housing policy for transgendered students to giving service organizations access to free vehicles for service projects,” Campbell said.

Patterson also expressed her and fellow MSA members’ disappointment about the lack of seriousness toward the elections.

“You do have to expect it, that someone is going to write-in something kind-of crazy,” she said.