The Voice sat down with the Dark Knight himself (Logan Arkema, COL ‘20) and his sidekick Robin (Jonathan Compo, COL ’20) for a conversation about their unique campaign, their goals for this election, and an insight into which version of Batman is objectively the best version of Batman.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
The Voice: Batman, let me start with you. What does Robin bring to the table for your campaign?
Batman: What Robin brings to the table not only his incredible gymnastic abilities, being raised in the circus is always incredibly valuable, but more importantly, Robin has never held any position in GUSA or typical campus politics. Even during my time in the Senate, [he]is very good at calling myself out and GUSA out when it starts falling into the routine that is campus politics and the tendency to want to put your name on things. He is basically very good at basically calling out BS and also brings a unique perspective to the table, being involved in campus theatre and other just non-political events. He definitely brings the common man’s perspective to the table, and calls out our campaign when it needs to be called out so we stay focused to our true goal of representation the everyday Hoya.
TV: Speaking of calling out GUSA, can both of you give one critique and one compliment for the current GUSA administration?
BM: I think that they have really made very good pushes on diversity. I am very glad to see two people of color at the top of running GUSA, I think that is very important for inclusivity and for representation. One critique, I think it took them a little bit to get their feet running, they were kinda running an outsider ticket, and, you know, especially during the summer months I think they made a few stumbles, but I think they learned from that, and I think that they have been doing some, well, I think there’s definitely room for improvement. I think they could have taken a bit more active role, but their heart has definitely been in the right place.
Robin: As Batman just said, I have been minimally involved with campus politics but through this kind of experience I’ve had the opportunity to engage with Kamar and Jessica for the first time, they’ve reached out to us and been helpful in offering their opinions on our campaign, which I think have been definitely beneficial. And in terms of a critique, I think that would be the critique that we kinda had for all of GUSA, which is that there is a tendency, a tendency rooted in good ambitions and goodwill that I think induces a level of, perhaps pettiness, perhaps self-importance, perhaps self-righteousness in the GUSA administration that we’re I think looking to kinda ameliorate with our… slightly less serious tone.
TV: What made you decide to run for president in the first place?
BM: Well, I obviously like being in the senate. I have had some experience with GUSA and, being in those circles you start to hear the names of people who are running. And while I certainly respect most of the current candidates that are running, no one really popped out as someone that I was like, yes, that person is who I want to be running GUSA. So over Christmas break, I texted Robin and I was like, “Hey, Batman and Robin for GUSA?”
TV: So riddle me this, what will you and Robin do about the rising tuition rates that many students have been worried about here?
BM: I think that every person who was involved in campus politics sees tuition as a major problem and obviously it is a nationwide trend. I think that one of the things that GUSA has to acknowledge is that it has very little leverage. GUSA needs to be upfront about that, and that there isn’t much we can do about rising tuition rates, in all honesty. I think what we can do is try and pressure the administration to be more transparent in what the tuition is going to.
Obviously we have the tuition roundtables every year, but those are so vague, block numbers that they give us that we still don’t really have a sense of where our money is going. So, I think that something that’s essential to help all campus activists, whether in GUSA or outside, is for those number to be more detailed, so we have a sense of where our money is going to, so that we can make adequate and informed claims and say “Hey, maybe spend less money on this,” so that we can see where our money is going and prioritize based off of that so we can actually have conversations with the administration, rather than just saying “Stop spending money!”
R: I would just echo Batman’s point. I think that, if we want to have a chance at effecting positive change in terms of tuition rates, we have to have access to all the information. The more detailed information, the more informed we will be able to make our opinions and then, from there, we can act.
TV: Besides the different platforms on your campaign poster, do you have any other platforms that you would like to speak about?
BM: The poster platforms are, you know, obviously based in humor and satire. Two actual policy platforms that we would like to see whoever wins take up is the idea of open-source textbooks. All three campaigns have ideas related to textbooks. In addition to those already-good ideas, we would be looking at open-source materials. We have seen relatively similar institutions, like UMass Amherst and University of Connecticut with investments of the $30,000 to $40,000 range and helping professors switch to open-source materials has saved students, like, in the range of the millions of dollars in textbook costs. But it is particularly the STEM fields when books can be egregiously expensive and when they require access codes. If we give professors the cover for the initial transition costs of switching to open-source materials, it can save students a lot of money in the long run.
The second thing has been my particular niche has been workers’ rights. One thing I have been working at as vice-chair of the Student Worker Advocacy Team are workers’ survey for residential living student employees, namely RHO workers, and RAs. We would like to see through the Student Employment Office a survey for every person who works on campus, so that they have advocates who are students that they can send complaints to, rather than sending complaints to their boss where they might be afraid of retaliation. There can be dedicated third-party student activists dedicated to making sure that all workplaces on campus are healthy and strong workplaces for other students. In terms of broader, general GUSA context, I think that we would like to see candidates be more honest with what they can feasibly accomplish, and actually highlight the things that their actually priorities would be, rather than 24 to 30 broad policy points.
R: I think the last one is what we are definitely putting pressure on the other campaigns to do, and I think we have seen some success. I think there has been a movement on the part of some other campaigns in order to highlight some concrete parts of their policy proposal. I think it is not inaccurate for us to take some credit for that increased transparency on their part. The other thing we hope to do with the campaign is that through our conspicuous guises, we’re hoping to increase turnout and overall interest and involvement in GUSA.
TV: Could you explain, between three to five sentences, why you and Robin should be elected?
BM: We are the heroes that GUSA deserves. We are not claiming that we are the heroes that GUSA needs. We think that we would offer a fresh GUSA, to steal Kamar and Jessica’s slogan. We think that we would offer something different, that maybe more students on campus will feel connected to and would assuage fears of a GUSA that takes itself too seriously. But we are not the people that we would, in our ideal world, like to see running a GUSA administration.
R: I’d echo Batman. I think that if we had the administration power, I think you would see crime rates drop down in the area. We’d lock, uh…
BM: All the supervillains up.
R: All the supervillains. Every single one.
TV: Speaking of supervillians, or in this case superheroes, who is your favorite Batman and why is it George Clooney?
BM: Ouch! No! No! Not! No! Boo! Those are words that were put in my mouth! My favorite Batman would be the Christian Bale Batman. I think that’s a pretty wide-strung consensus amongst the people. I think that Christian Bale’s portrayal of Batman and the Dark Knight Trilogy as it stands really sets the standard for good, high quality, superhero cinema. The realism and grittiness that now basically every superhero movie has felt the need to copy was rooted essentially, basically, in the Dark Knight Trilogy.
R: Well I’m going to have to disagree with you there, Batman. I think Joe Schumacher’s Batman and Robin starring George Clooney is the pinnacle of the Batman franchise. We had the introduction of “Batnips,” which is a unique thing in a superhero movie and sometimes happens to me in this morph-suit.
BM: We have a variety of viewpoints on our campaign.
TV: Lastly, as you both know, the Winter Olympics are in full swing. If you had to describe your ticket as a winter sport in the Olympics, what would it be and why?
BM: I would say, our campaign is kinda like the ’80s ballet skiing, in which we kinda were just on top of a hill, looked at ourselves and said, “It’d be fun to slide down this!” and then we’re trying to make our flailing look as coordinated as possible.
R: I would second that, Batman.