Columbia 'STEMinists' campaign on free Play-Doh, bubble wrap

Two feminist freshmen at Columbia University are campaigning for the class presidency by promising free “Legos, Bubble-Wrap, and Play-Doh” to classmates.

Michael Shamma and Riya Desai, who together are running as “The STEMinists,” hope to become the Class President and Vice President of the freshmen class at Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), the undergraduate school of engineering at Columbia.

“Do you want Legos, Bubble Wrap, and Play-Doh?,” asks their campaign flyer, which is posted around campus. “If so, vote for the STEMinists.”

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Desai and Shamma, both freshmen who met through a mutual friend, vow to help students enjoy a “fun and memorable time” at Columbia by hosting de-stress events involving games and toys, so long as they are “academically relevant.”

Desai, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, told Campus Reform that while the STEMinists didn’t originate with feminist intentions, they’re still oriented towards women’s empowerment.

“Our name STEMinists came from the face that we are all engineers. We all take STEM courses,” Desai explained. “Many people thought it was a play on feminism, and so it wasn't intentionally meant to be, but now looking at it, there's a lot more women in engineering.”

If elected, the duo hopes to sponsor events partially focused on feminism, but mostly focused on having fun, Desai added, saying, “We really want to reach out to the freshmen class, and let them know that school has a fun side to it. We will, as a party, promise to create a fun environment.”

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“We would do events to destress. But we'd want them to be academically relevant,” Desai elaborated. “For example, we'd want to create a Lego area where engineers can go and build their ideas, and it'll be fun. One of the activities we'd also plan on doing is giving out free Bubble Wrap.”

Voting closed last Friday, and the STEMinists won’t know if they’ve been elected until later this week.

Competition is stiff, though, as another duo of aspiring class representatives, Sail The Seven SEAS, led by freshmen Shawn Amirthan, vows to create a free pet-therapy area for students if elected.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen