King Kersten

In the spring of 1972, Robert (Bob) Calhoun Kersten ran one of more memorable Student Body Presidential campaigns from his office in the fourth floor bathroom of Walsh Hall.

Bob Kersten and others on the sidelines of the ND vs. Purdue football game, 09/30/1972

Kersten’s candidacy was intended satire of student government and he ran under an oligarchy platform.  Despite University violations, Kersten’s running mate was Uncandidate the Cat, the “first female Notre Dame poobah” [Observer, 03/03/1972].

Profile and platform of Student Body President candidate Robert Calhoun Kersten [Observer, 02/22/1972]

In an apparent publicity stunt, Kersten was “abducted … from the third floor water closet in Keenan Hall” [Observer, 02/24/1972]

Page of the index of the Observer, maintained by the University Archives, listing some of Kersten’s activities during the 1972 Student Body Presidential elections and his first few months in office, including walking on water, coronation, and declaring martial war

Kersten wins the Student Body Presidential election [Observer, 03/03/1972]

Kersten won the election by the largest margin to date, although he hadn’t planned much for his actual presidency.  Student Body Vice President Uncandidate the Cat was replaced by Ed Gray, who was replaced by Dennis Etienne (H-Man) in October 1972.  Kersten’s presidency was relatively uneventful as Etienne ran much of the day-to-day activities.  Etienne won the following year’s SBP election.

Kersten’s antics are remembered still today.  The Observer and Notre Dame Magazine have mentioned him in recent articles.  Legend’s of Notre Dame Restaurant also offers a “King of Campus” steak in his honor.

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