Oppold, Kelly Declared Winners in Second Round of UA Balloting
Wan Yusof Wan Morshidi--The Tech
Paul T. Oppold '99 and Jennifer A. Kelly '99
Paul T. Oppold '99 and Jennifer A. Kelly '99 emerged as as the winners of this year's Undergraduate Association presidential and vice presidential elections.
Voter turnout in the second UAelection in a month's time was low, with just 643 students casting ballots.
The election for UA president and vice president was re-run after the UA's judicial review board questioned decisions made by the election commission regarding potentially illegal campaigning by Oppold.
The Oppold/Kelly ticket was selected by 272 people as their first choice while the ticket of Sandra C. Sandoval '00 and June Kim '98 finished second with 209 votes. Eric H. Prebys '99 and Andrew W. Sparks '99 followed with 167 voters selecting the ticket as their first choice. Write-in candidates accounted for 55 votes.
Voter turnout, at 14 percent of those eligible, was down significantly from earlier years. In the 1997 race, 1,396 students voted, while in 1996, 1,077 students cast their ballots. About 1,200 students voted in the initial elections in March.
Despite the low voter turnout,Oppold said he thought the election was representative of the student body in general. "It is almost like a national poll where you can extrapolate the total value by taking a survey of a small number of people."
Kelly said that the race was "a little frustrating at times" but that she was "happy with the outcome." Kelly attributed her ticket's victory to the pair's extensive experience and involvement.
"We've had a lot of experience and involvement in outside groups," she said. "A lot of people know us and our ideas are things people want to see happen," she said.
"It was a lot of fun," said third place finisher Prebys of the elections. "I wish I could have gotten some more campaigning in at the end," he said and plans to continue campaigning in the coming weeks "whenever I get stressed out with classes." Prebys promised appearances in a gorilla suit.
Sandoval, whose ticket finished second, said that she was disappointed with the result of the election. She said, however, that there are "a lot of really committed people on the UA" and the body "still has a lot of potential."
The election was hard on all involved, Sandoval said, adding that she was "disappointed in the low voter turnout." Sandoval is still considering future ways to be involved in the UA.
Winners to tackle apathy, events
One of the goals in the coming months for the new UAteam is to target student apathy. The team hopes to "get people a little bit excited about student life at MIT,"Oppold said.
The new administration hopes to accomplish"big things,"Oppold said, including expanded Safe Ride to all hours, expanded time for non-academic events, and the creation of more "big social events"in the Student Center.
In addition, the group hopes to work closely with the Interfraternity Council and the Dormitory Council to plan this year's rush. "I feel that we should jump in and be a part of the discussions,"Oppold said.
Since Kelly is the secretary and treasurer of Dormcon as well as the incoming UAvice president, there will be a link between the committees.
Despite the strife between the organizations in the past, Oppold said he hoped that the UAwould be welcomed into the groups. "I think that the offer of opening discussions and with getting more student input is definitely the UA's role."
Oppold also hopes to work with outgoing UAPresident Dedric A. Carter '98 to secure new student activity funds promised by Provost Joel Moses PhD '67.
Kelly's goals in the near term include making sure that the upcoming spring weekend activities run smoothly so that the ticket can improve them even further next year. She called spring weekend one of the UA's most visible activities.
The incoming vice president also hopes to guarantee a more smoothly running election next year.
Bisen-Hersh praises commission
UAElectionCommissioner Seth M. Bisen-Hersh '00 said that "there were a few minor problems" with the election process this year, but "it all worked out for the best."
The low voter turnout "shows a lot of apathy," Bisen-Hersh said. He encouraged Oppold to use his term to encourage student interest in the UA.
Overall, Bisen-Hersh said that the election ran well. "My commission did a good job," he said.
Douglas E. Heimburger contributed to the reporting of this story.