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March of death robot army strays off course

While Toni Pearce's campaign to be National Union of Students president ended in triumph, there was only shame and defeat for one of her rivals: an inanimate carbon rod.

Taking inspiration from the episode of The Simpsons in which the "worker of the week" award goes to a carbon rod rather than Homer, Sam Gaus, a student at University College London, proposed the rod for president. On behalf of the rod, he pledged to build a nuclear arsenal for the NUS and construct 8 million death robots. Ah, yes, the zany behaviour for which students are universally beloved.

Supposedly, there is a serious point that the NUS is led by ineffective careerists who just want to be Labour MPs - a criticism that is probably as old as the NUS itself. "His running serves to seriously delegitimise NUS, which is our primary aim," said a supporter of Gaus.

But, happily, Gaus' efforts were undermined by pedantry and legalistic wrangling. First, "inanimate carbon rod" isn't eligible to stand, so Gaus was nominated, turning a "none of the above" satirical point into a routine but pointless candidacy. Then his manifesto was rejected on copyright grounds after officials questioned his use of imagery and characters from The Simpsons. Gaus abandoned his campaign after the hustings but student wackiness will live to fight another day, alas.

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