It may not seem like LSA junior Ryan Fantuzzi, campus’s most well-known conservative, takes politics very seriously.
When Democratic U.S. senator Debbie Stabenow was running for reelection last November, Fantuzzi protested at a rally by carrying a giant poster of his own face and shouting, “No! No! No!” at Stabenow’s supporters.
When the University and its Coke-peddling shops and vending machines were caught up in a sticky debate over the Coca-Cola Company’s alleged human rights violations overseas at the same time Fantuzzi was running for Michigan Student Assembly president, he took dramatic sips from a 20-ounce bottle of Coke while debating the other candidates.
And when MSA lost $20,000 in one night by hosting the rapper Ludacris at Hill Auditorium in 2005, Fantuzzi said the money would have been better used by any hypothetical campus group, even the “Wolverine Fart Club.”
Fantuzzi is vocal, inventive and funny. His love of humor, he says, is what keeps him going through long campaigns.
But there’s something to Fantuzzi that sets him apart from other campus activists, and it’s not that he doesn’t take politics seriously. It might be the opposite. Fantuzzi says he really cares about the issues.
He sold his Sony PlayStation to finance his bid for the MSA presidency last spring. He finished in third place in the election, and his party, the Student Conservative Party, fizzled after that.
This year, he brought three ex-terrorists to campus, sparking a widespread outcry and debate.
And perhaps his crowning achievement has been serving as the chair of the Washtenaw County Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, coordinating local efforts to pass Proposal 2, which banned affirmative action in public institutions in Michigan. He says he cried tears of joy when Prop 2 passed.
But Fantuzzi says his political future is uncertain. An issue like MCRI comes around only so often, and Fantuzzi wants to focus on issues. He has grown weary of the infighting and corruption in both major political parties and says he doesn’t think he’ll run for office again.
But don’t fret, a presence as vibrant as Fantuzzi’s can’t stay away from the spotlight for long.
-Reporting by Forest Casey