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Zeskind UA Speaker In Contested Race

By Kevin R. Lang


The Undergraduate Association Council elected Benjamin J. Zeskind ’03 as speaker for the 2002-2003 academic year last night by a unanimous vote.

Zeskind was the only candidate on the ballot. Only ten councillors attended the meeting, which began after a long delay while waiting for quorum.

Also elected last night was Yun-Ling Wong ’04 as vice chair of the council and Joshua T. Ouellette ’04 as Coordinating Committee Member At-Large. Both candidates also ran unopposed.

The vice chair is responsible for assisting the speaker at council meetings, but he or she is most directly responsible for organizing the UA retreat each year. The Coordinating Committee is responsible for deciding on UA action between council meetings and over the summer.

Incoming UA President Josiah D. Seale ’03 said he was “happy with the people who were elected,” and that he thought Zeskind would be a very successful speaker.

Zeskind prepared for new role

After serving with outgoing UA Council Speaker Victoria K. Anderson ’02 for the past year as vice chair, Zeskind decided to run for speaker. “I’ve seen how the council operated the past two years, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what works and what opportunities there are for improvement,” Zeskind said. “I think it’s really important to try to bring as many people as possible into the council and into the UA in general.”

Last year, four candidates ran for UA Council Speaker. Zeskind said he did not know why no other candidates stepped forward this year, but he credited a year of working as vice chair with Anderson, whom he said had “done a great job,” for giving him an edge to be the next speaker.

In addition to vice chair, Zeskind has served as MacGregor House’s UA representative for the past two years. Zeskind will step down as MacGregor’s UA representative; a special election will be held to fill that position. However, he said he will remain involved in Club Z, which he founded. Zeskind said he was confident the club would keep going even with his reduced involvement. “We have a pretty strong team of underclassmen,” he said.

Seale hopes to improve attendance

Next year, Zeskind will work most directly with Seale, with whom he has served as a councillor. Seale was in attendance last night in his last full meeting as councillor from Senior House. At the next regular council meeting, he will be inaugurated as president.

One of Seale’s campaign goals was to increase student involvement and representation in the UA. He said he was not very surprised by the poor attendance at last night’s meeting, saying it was a particularly bad week in many classes. He said that in his experience, the delay while waiting for quorum had happened “on occasion.” Next year, he said, improving attendance would be one of his goals. “The quorum we’re definitely going to have to work on,” Seale said.

One possibility Seale mentioned was to change the way UA Council seats are distributed, giving seats to what he thought would be more recognizable communities such as dormitory floors, rather than entire houses. Such a plan, however, would require revising the UA Constitution.