The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 71.0°F | A Few Clouds

Poorly Organized Elections Suffer from Bad Publicity

Raymond Louie--The Tech
John Kymissis '98

By Shang-Lin Chuang
Associate News Editor

Undergraduate Association elections will be held on Wednesday, but many class council positions have no candidates and UA officers say that the election process has been run poorly.

"There has been a serious lack of publicity throughout the elections," said Russell S. Light '98, UA Council floor leader. "People didn't know that elections were occurring. The election had to be extended because there weren't a lot of candidates, and even now there are still a lot of people who don't realize that the elections are coming up."

While election commissioner John Kymissis '98 agrees that students are showing little interest in the elections, he says that publicity is not a problem.

"The fact that not everybody knows it is going on is not because of what we have been doing, but because not that many people are interested in the UA," Kymissis said.

"We have been getting the word out encouraging people to vote. Most of the campus is covered with posters. There is little else that we can do," Kymissis said.

According to Light and UA President Vijay P. Sankaran '95, there were many problems with the election process.

The election commission is severely understaffed, Light said. There were not a lot of people involved to do the posters and all the publicity required in order to have a successful election, he said.

The election process also got off to a late start, and there was confusion and frustration about it among the current UA members. As a result, few people ran for office, Sankaran said.

"Compared to previous years in which there was a large group of people committed to help with publicity, there were relatively few people in the UA to run elections even after repeated requests," Light said.

"As a result, the election commissioner found himself with not enough support and with very few people, and they were unprepared for the amount of free time needed to do all the publicity," Light continued.

Another problem was that Kymissis was given no formal training as election commissioner, Light explained. "Since all the previous election commissioners had left the UA, he was on his own," he said.

Many spots have no candidates

There are no candidates for more than half of the class council positions, and most of the other positions have a single candidate running.

"There are many people who are interested and involved, and there are people who just aren't. People just don't want to serve on class council," Kymissis said.

"Another reason for the lack of candidates in class council has to do with an internal problem. The current officers are losing a little bit of hope, and that's why they are not running again," Sankaran said.

There have been a lot of problems in the class council which have frustrated the current officers. The storm that caused the Class of 1996 boat cruise to be canceled and a lack of enthusiasm from the student body contributed to the problem, Sankaran said.

"There has been a noticeable lack of commitment to the UA this year in comparison to prior years. As a result, there are fewer people who would be involved," Light said.

Late changes cause confusion

"The changes the UA Council made in the beginning of the second term also created a lot of confusion," Sankaran said. "Changes should be made in the first term or else the election committee will have a hard time adjusting. That was a big mistake by the UA."

At the beginning of the second term, a proposal was made to lower the petition signature limit and extend the deadline for registering in order to encourage more people to run for UA offices.

These changes were first passed and then both vetoed by Sankaran and ruled unconstitutional by the UA Judicial Review Board. The miscue caused a great deal of confusion, Sankaran said. In the end Kymissis was allowed to decide which rules would change; he extended the registration deadline but did not lower the signature limit.