BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- While not everyone at UC Berkeley is nuts about the fact a man in a squirrel costume ran for a seat in the school senate and won, the newly elected senator tells KPIX 5 his plans are no joke.
Meet "Furry Boi," one of the new senators elected for the Associated Students of the University of California Senate on April 13. Inside that the squirrel suit is UC Berkeley sophomore Stephen Boyle.
Boyle readily admits that his campaign started as a laugh.
"It was a joke at first, but I'm here to make a lot of change," explained Boyle.
Boyle said it all began with this meme he created. It was posted to the "UC Berkeley Memes For Edgy Teens," a public group on Facebook that has almost 160,000 members.
"I started thinking how that was a very viable idea and I started going through the process of filing for candidacy, going on Amazon finding a squirrel suit," explained Boyle.
The satirical Furry Boi character got him the attention he needed. He won one of the 20 seats up for grabs in the ASUC.
The backlash has been ferocious. An editorial in the Daily Cal newspaper called Furry Boi's election a "travesty" and chastised students for voting for a squirrel over serious candidates.
"Only actions speak louder than words, and I promise you people that I upset, I'll follow through," said Boyle.
He says he's passionate and focused on issues including the environment, disabilities and mental illness, the latter because Boyle says he was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
"I know he's very serious about the school and he wants to do a lot of good things for UC Berkeley," said UC Berkeley student Austin Aaron.
"It's captured everyone's attention, so it'll make everything a little bit more real, said student Marisa Mota. "Essentially make the school more accountable for their actions, more accountable for their sustainability."
And as far as those who are calling for his resignation? Boyle has a message.
"I'm not resigning, the senator elect said. That's funny. I bought a squirrel suit for God's sakes. I'm in it for the long run."
Boyle did say students shouldn't expect him to be sporting the suit much once he's officially in office. He will be putting it aside out of respect to the people he upset.
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