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

Frosh Elect Lin, Roulette to Office

By Sarah Y. Keightley
Editor in Chief

Running against seven other students, Jessica J. Lin '98 was elected president of the freshmen class last Friday by the narrow margin of nine votes.

"I don't think the margin has ever been that close," said Vijay P. Sankaran '95, Undergraduate Association president. The races are usually close because the votes get "divided up" under the preferential voting system, Sankaran said. "Since the race was close we had to double check our results," he said.

The other new officers are Vice President G. Dante Roulette '98, Treasurer Robert W. Chan '98, Secretary Niti Dube '98, Publicity Chair Emy Chen '98, and Social Chairs Wendy Yu '98 and Elizabeth S. Yo '98.

Thirty-five percent of the 1130 freshmen voted last Friday, according to UA statistics. Sanakaran, who ran the elections, was "happy with the turnout" since the turnouts for the past few years have been around 31 and 32 percent, he said. Overall the elections went smoothly, Sankaran said.

"The freshmen were enthusiastic about running this year," Sankaran said. The candidates who did not win can still participate in other UA positions and committees, Sankaran said.

The newly elected officers are already making plans for the year.

"I hope everyone gets off to a good year, and I'm sure Jessica and I will be getting back to everyone in the freshmen class about projects that we'll be planning," Roulette said. Roulette said that if any freshmen have suggestions, they can send him electronic mail.

"My main position is to get some fund-raisers going," Chan said. He said he is open for suggestions from his classmates, and he is going to look at how other MIT activities do fund-raising.

Yo and Yu said that they are working on different fund-raisers and study breaks, and they "definitely want to continue the Screw Your Roommate' Dance."

Rank system might sway vote

The UA uses the system of preferential voting in elections, Sankaran said. In preferential voting, each voter ranks their choices for a certain position instead of selecting just one candidate, he said.

When officials are tallying the votes they go through rounds. Whoever has the fewest number of votes in the round gets dropped, and "their votes are divvied up among the other candidates," Sankaran explained.

For the president and vice president races, "most of the ballots ended up being nonpreferential," Sankaran said. "The majority of people only ranked one person on their ballot" for these positions, he said.

Sankaran speculated that if some candidates had received more second place votes they might have ended up winning the race.

Though "the ballots said rank [your choices] in preferential order from one to eight," Sankaran is not sure if freshmen understood the concept of preferential voting.

"It kind of makes you think that candidates should campaign for second place votes," Sankaran said.

The deadline for filing to run for either the secretary or publicity chair positions was extended until 5 p.m. on Tuesday because no one was running for either office. Though candidates who were running in highly-competitive races also had the option to switch and run for one of these positions, only new candidates decided to run for these offices, Sankaran said.