Rotnofsky-Mandalapu use satirical methods to campaign

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Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu are two “very good boys” who are running for executive alliance.

Rotnofsky, a Plan II and linguistics junior, and Mandalapu, a Plan II and economics senior, are candidates from the Texas Travesty, UT’s student satire publication, which traditionally puts up two candidates each year. Rotnofsky said he decided to run, and he and Mandalapu flipped a coin to decide which would be the presidential candidate.

“I think I’d be a better dictator because I know everybody’s wants and desires, and I would act with kindness to the people,” Rotnofsky said. “Student Government is too democratic. In order for it to be run efficiently, they need a benevolent dictator, and that’s me.”

Mandalapu said he is running for more practical reasons.

“I want to put on my resume that I am vice president,” Mandalapu said. “And I think Xavier and I would be good student leaders.”

Rotnofsky grew up in Laredo, and Mandalapu was born in India and later moved to Australia and then Houston.

“My experiences growing up, they really add — it’s such a buzzword — but they really add to this diversity we bring,” Mandalapu said.  

Friends and family of Rotnofsky and Mandalapu said the two candidates were both entertaining as children. 

Rotnofsky’s father, Frank Rotnofsky, said his son was fairly quiet until he was about 4 years old. He said his son was just a little man who took in the world and observed. 

“There’s an old soul in that young man,” Frank Rotnofsky said. “He’s very thoughtful, and he’s very sensitive to what’s around him, and he takes that to heart.”

Chris Gilman, editor-in-chief of the Texas Travesty, said he is like a mother to Mandalapu.

“Rohit is a good boy, a very good boy — that’s ‘very’ in italics,” Gilman said. “I fully believe in my boy.”

Rotnofsky’s favorite book is the TI-84 instruction manual, and he sleeps with one sock on every night on alternating feet, he said.

“I don’t think I am funny,” Rotnofsky said. “I guess you can say I stopped being funny at 11.”

Mandalapu said his dream job is to own a dance company specializing in meringue, ballroom and tap. His favorite food is milk, he said.  

“He’s demanding in a very positive way,” Gilman said. “He makes everybody drink a lot of milk, more than they’re comfortable with.”

Rotnofsky and Mandalapu’s campaign has relied heavily on social media. The two have a Facebook page with more than 900 likes, post satirical campaign videos and use Tinder and Grindr to reach out to students.

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say that they really, really like the campaign, that they like the [humorous] approach, and that’s really refreshing,” Rotnofsky said. “When people like the page, it’s out of their own volition. It’s not us trying to force anybody.”

More than anything, Rotnofsky and Mandalapu said they think their campaign works because they are friends and have good comedic chemistry.

“When he looks into my eyes and says, ‘I love you,’ it makes my heart smile,” Mandalapu said. “I think we have a really good dynamic, and I think on top of that, people seem to really recognize that and enjoy that we like working with each other.”

To read the candidate profile for Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi, click here.

To read the candidate profile for David Maly and Stephen Svatek, click here.