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Shulman New President: Ticket of Shulman, Chuang Wins Easily

By Frank Dabek

EDITOR IN CHIEF

The ticket of Peter A. Shulman ’01 and Mendel Chuang ’02 rolled to a comfortable victory in this year’s Undergraduate Association Presidential elections.

Results released last week showed that Shulman and Chuang, who will take office as UA President and Vice President May 8, were the first choice of nearly 30 percent of voters compared to 22 percent for second-place finishers Sanjay Rao ’02 and Brian Pasquinelli ’02. As votes were redistributed under the UA’s preferential balloting system, the eventual winners never looked back, and after the fourth and final count, they accrued 48 percent of the vote, compared to Rao/Pasquinelli’s 34 percent.

Nearly 25 percent of the student body voted, an impressive turnout considering that the election was restarted twice -- once due to a bug in the web-based voting software and a second time following a judicial review of postering violations. Last year, about 32 percent of students voted in the UA elections.

“I’m excited, and it’s an honor,” said Shulman of his victory. Shulman, a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Chuang, a resident of MacGregor House, ran on a platform that stressed improving communication between students, the administration, and UA. The pair cited distrust between students and administrators as the key problem facing student government.

Chuang said that he was looking forward to his term as UAVP and that the new administration’s first priority would be the appointments of several UA positions including treasurer and secretary general.

Voters turned to the ticket because of they possess the combination of “knowledge and charisma to lead the student body and interact with the administration,” Chuang said.

Rao, whose issue-based platform and popularity with underclassmen provided the next strongest showing, said that he was impressed by the strong voter turn-out and that he looks forward to working with Shulman in the coming year.

Rao, a sophomore, did not rule out another run at the presidency next year: “I always want to stay involved in the UA. It’s a great way to help this Institute out.”

In the meantime, he will be involved in class council activities, UA and Institute committees and will “keep fighting for students,” he said.

Write-ins strong

Following the top two tickets was a pack composed of the other two tickets on the ballot and a surprisingly strong write-in presence.

Jennifer Berk ’01 and Jason Wasfy ’01, who stressed their experience in government during the race, picked up 17 percent of first place votes.

Berk said that she is currently investigating how she will remain involved in the UA in the coming year. She said that she was very impressed with the voter turnout especially considering that “the election was a little messy this year.”

In an e-mail release, Wasfy said that running with Berk was “one of the biggest honors I’ve had as a student at MIT.” Like Berk, he plans to stay involved in student government next year.

Following Berk/Wasfy were the collection of write-in candidates led by Jeff Lieberman ’00 and Walter Holland G, who managed to collect nine percent of first place votes despite beginning their campaign well after voting began.

Lieberman, in an e-mail statement issued after the election, said that his ticket’s “wild campaign success was able to underscore the ridiculous nature of the UA’s electoral process” and called his 90 first-place votes “not bad.”

Lieberman’s platform was based, in part, on the dubious promise to incorporate SIPB member and MIT affiliate, John A. Hawkinson. In their post-election statement the duo said that they would “still would like to incorporate JHAWK KB1CGZ and hope that Shulman/Chuang plan on taking this idea to heart.”

Christopher Smith ’01 and Patrick Kane ’03 filled out the field, collecting one fewer first place vote than the collective write-in candidates. Smith/Kane’s self-proclaimed radical platform of incorporation for the UA apparently failed to resonate with voters.

Tracy “Pick” Flick, protagonist of the popular motion picture Election, in which postering violations were also at the center of a student government scandal, picked up only 16 total first place votes despite a strong publicity effort.

Ballot question garners apathy

The other result decided by this final round of balloting was that of a non-binding question polling student sentiment on the possibility of amending the UA constitution to allow for direct election of all councillors.

The idea was met by profound apathy: 507 or 43 percent of voters responded “don’t care.” The majority of those with an opinion (26 percent of all respondents) selected “somewhat in favor.”

Naveen Sunkavally contributed to the reporting of this article. Related stories:

Elections to Continue In Abbreviated Format
April 11, 2000
UA Halts Race For President
April 7, 2000
Shulman, Chuang Push UA Credibility
March 28, 2000