University of Wisconsin students Pranav Srivastava and Barnabas Shiferaw announced their candidacy for the Senior Class Office Election under the Pail & Shovel Party, March 24.
The Pail & Shovel Party was established in 1978 by Leon Varjian, a former vice president of UW’s student government and notorious campus jokester, according to the UW news website.
Along with the party’s president James Mallon, Varjian livened the campus with pranks including the fake Statue of Liberty on Lake Mendota, 1,008 plastic pink flamingos on Bascom Hill and toga parties, according to UW news.
April 1, Srivastava and Shiferaw were declared victors of the SCO election, marking a successful resurrection of the Pail & Shovel Party on the UW campus.
“When I first discovered [Pail & Shovel], I was floored because I was like, ‘Wow, this is exactly what Barni and I need and exactly what we believe in,’” Srivastava said. “Pail and Shovel believes in a lot of things, but things that they certainly do not believe in are honesty, integrity and responsibility, and that’s something that is very true to Barni and I’s hearts.”
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Shiferaw said he thinks the party’s platform also captured the hearts of students. He said he believes voters knew very clearly what they believed in and what they did not, and this sense of self-awareness likely influenced the election’s outcome.
Voter turnout for the SCO election this year was around 9%, with Srivastava and Shiferaw earning a total of 781 votes, according to Shiferaw.
“We had what is considered a healthy lead, and I think that has to do with our incredible Instagram campaign,” Shiferaw said.
Srivastava said their campaign process consisted of reaching out to students on social media, with a heavy emphasis on Instagram. Srivastava said he and Shiferaw did nothing else to reach out to voters.
Srivastava and Shiferaw’s Instagram page, advertised as a grocery store, has over 500 followers. Their page features information about their party’s history, as well as their platform initiatives and cash giveaways.
“One of the biggest reasons I wanted to come into office is, since my first year on campus, I was able to see how resources were distributed,” Shiferaw said. “Over time, as I went to different places and understood how the campus works, I realized the monopoly the Wisconsin Union had on Rathskeller sauce.”
Shiferaw said he saw students struggling across campus to obtain Rathskeller sauce for their fries and sandwiches. In his view, Badgers were not able to get the sauces they needed, leading him to become passionate about the this lack of access.
Shiferaw said the Union is holding the sauce from the students who give them their business and keep them afloat.
“Once I get into office, I’m going to work on the redistribution of sauce throughout the city,” Shiferaw said. “I think it is really unfair that the Union has held it from people who deserve it the most.”
Shiferaw said he plans to establish Rathskeller sauce dispensaries throughout Madison so that students who would like them are able to access these resources.
Srivastava said he is passionate about mandating student vaccinations so to enable what he described as “the world’s largest toga party” sometime in the 2021-22 academic year.
“That is definitively going to happen, it’s just a matter of when,” Srivastava said. “I’m very excited for that initiative.”
Srivastava said he and Shiferaw are also looking to implement a new grading policy involving pay reductions for professors every time they give students any grade that is less than an A.
April 6, Srivastava and Shiferaw released applications for three appointed positions to join their team. The posts include an events director, communications director and philanthropy director, according to Srivastava.
“Beyond these three positions, we’re going to have a slightly less formal cabinet of hooligans behind us that’ll help us orchestrate next year’s festivities,” Srivastava said. “We’re planning on doing a lot of stuff and … we’re going to need kids that are willing to carry out our deeds.”
Shiferaw said a pillar of the Pail & Shovel Party platform is providing space for supporters to get involved with party work. Shiferaw said he believes all of UW must become involved to implement an agenda the party wants to pursue.
Since being elected, Srivastava and Shiferaw briefly celebrated their victory. Srivastava said he and Shiferaw sipped a lot of juice, namely apple and orange.
“A couple days ago, we had a water balloon party which was fun,” Srivastava said. “We had a big barrel of juice at that party, and we had 200 to 300 water balloons flying, so that’s what we’ve done so far.”