The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 55.0°F | Overcast

Freshmen Elect Class Officers; Turnout Low

By Michael Saginaw

In the first general freshman election in recent memory, 32.8 percent of the Class of 1996 voted for their new class officers last Friday, according to Steven A. Luperchio '95, acting Undergraduate Association election commissioner.

The new officers are President Surekha Vajjhala, Vice President Carrie R. Muh, Secretary Michael Cho, Treasurer Diane T. Melo, Publicity Chairs Jason P. Fiorillo and Michelle T. Nee, and Social Chairs Evan D. Goldstein and Chiann J. Yeh.

"The major project of the year is to raise money for the freshman banquet," Vajjhala said. The banquet is for the classes of 1996 and 1971, which entered the Institute 25 years ago. "I want to raise money and contact the other class. I want our classes to be really close," Vajjhala added.

"I'd like to do my job to the full potential that I have, and to get people involved, informed, and unified. My main focus is to attempt to unify the freshman class," Fiorillo said.

This was the first time in many years that the entire freshman class was eligible to vote. In previous years, potential candidates needed to obtain 40 signatures to attend a meeting in which they voted among themselves to fill the offices, according to Luperchio. "The way we did it this year it gave more people the opportunity to vote," he added.

Voting was conducted in several preferential rounds. In each round, the candidate receiving the fewest votes was eliminated and his or her votes redistributed to the voter's next favorite candidate. This process continued until one candidate had a majority of the votes cast.

Complicated filing process

Candidates for office had to fill out a sheet giving information about themselves. They had to sign a statement of candidacy and promise that if elected, they would fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. In addition, all candidates had to obtain the signatures of 40 members of the freshman class.

"I didn't want to just pass a ballot signature sheet around a lecture. I tried to talk to people who signed my petition," Vajjhala said.

Each signature was verified by the election commission. "The registrar provides us with a list of members of the class. There were 19 people who completed all the requirements," Luperchio said.

Students were not allowed to begin campaigning until Sept. 20, and they were not allowed to campaign near Lobby 7 on election day. Each candidate was allowed to spend up to $275 for the campaign, excluding any contributions.

"Based on the speeches at the `Meet the Candidates' night, I think each of the candidates was equally well qualified," Vajjhala said.

"Some people really went overboard. I tried to just stay simple and inform people about me. Campaigning was great. I found that most people were very receptive and open," Fiorillo said.

"I think the elections went well. People were more concerned about student government. People may expect a lot more from us, and I'm sure we'll be happy to oblige them," Cho said.

"The sophomore officers advise freshman officers about what they need to know and how to go about things," said Luperchio.

"It's a very good thing that the sophomores are so willing to help us get organized," Vajjhala remarked.