Campaigning for the Undergraduate Association Fall 2007 elections began at the stroke of midnight on Sept. 27, with candidates for 2011 Class Council chalking along Amherst Alley.
Sonya Makhni ’11, running for secretary, was the first one on the sidewalk early Thursday morning, followed closely by Hway (Helen) Chen ’11 and Carolyn L. Wang ’11, publicity chair co-candidates, and Yu (Jeff) Zhao ’11, social chair candidate running with Emma M. Rosen ’11. The four students wrote their slogans on the sidewalk in front of Baker and in popular freshman classrooms. “This is how dedicated we are,” Wang said. “Putting aside our psets to chalk.”
A total of 22 freshmen, including four co-candidate pairs, submitted completed election packets for class council positions, and 24 candidates submitted packets for the 27 UA Senate positions up for election. UA President Martin F. Holmes ’08 characterized these figures as either record-breaking or very near to it.
There are currently no students running for UA Senate positions from Random Hall, Bexley Hall, or Baker House. The lack of Senate candidates from Baker particularly surprised Holmes, who noted the significant proportion of pre-orientation Freshman Leadership Program participants who later become Baker residents. UA Election Commissioner Alexis Zhu ’08 said that many FLP participants are running for class council positions.
At press time, there were seven Senatorial positions without candidates: two each from Baker (which has two Senate seats in total) and the Interfraternity Council (five seats in total), and one each from Bexley (one seat in total), Random (one seat in total), and MacGregor House (two seats in total). The number of Senator positions for each dormitory or residence is determined by student population. Students can still become official Senate candidates for these dormitories and groups, UA Election Commissioner JiangWei (Alexis) Zhu ’08 said. Late petitions, only offered for open seats, are due on Monday, Oct. 1 at 5 p.m.
Candidates currently do not know who they are running against, as the UA has chosen not to publish that information yet. Zhu said that this was a way to encourage all candidates to continue campaigning and get to know their constituents. If a list of candidates is released early, candidates of uncontested positions may not make the effort to campaign, Zhu said.
“It gets to the point where people in your class don’t know who you are, where people in your building don’t know who you are,” Zhu said. “I want people to get a feel for what their classmates want.”
Zhu said a list of candidates will be published on the UA Web site this weekend before voting begins so that students can look at the candidates’ platforms.
At the Sept. 20 candidates meeting, Zhu and Holmes laid out the election guidelines, explaining the process of becoming a candidate and the campaign rules and restrictions. Zhu emphasized the importance of following election procedures. “We’re going to be very strict with deadlines,” Zhu said, on behalf of the Election Commission. “We’re really tightening everything up, getting everything to be systematic, with no smudging or fudging.”
During the Spring 2007 elections, a controversy had erupted in the 2008 Class Council vice presidential election as a student was granted an extension for his petition, then removed from the ballot, reinstated, had “violated election rules” appended to his name, then ultimately removed from the ballot. Zhu, in an effort to prevent this problem from recurring, repeated herself regarding deadlines, stating that she would not accept any regular petitions late.
Voter turnout is expected to increase, Holmes said. He described the meeting as “pretty packed.” A total of 48 interested students attended the meeting, more than double the typical 15–20, an interest that Holmes said he hopes will carry over to the voter side. The Fall 2006 election yield of 1,083 votes was a small decrease from 2005 when 1,160 votes were cast. However, freshman participation is expected to rise again; 466 votes were cast in 2005 and 547 in 2006.
ElectComm hopes to become more involved in the campaigning aspect of elections. Zhu will hold office hours in the UA Office, Room W20-401, on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 2–4 p.m. to give tips regarding campaigning, answer questions, and accept late petitions. Furthermore, a UA official will be in the Student Center on Oct. 1 to publicize the election.
All class council positions — including president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, publicity chair, and social chair — for the Class of 2011 are being voted on. The publicity chair and social chair positions can be held by either an individual or a pair of students.
According to the election packet given to candidates, class council officers will be “responsible for promoting class unity, organizing class social events, and conducting any other business of the class,” as opposed to UA Senators, responsible for legislation. Senate Representative positions are on the ballot for all of the dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups.
A debate sponsored jointly by The Tech and the UA featuring the six 2011 Class Council presidential candidates will be held from 5–7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30 on the first floor of the Student Center in front of LaVerde’s Market.
Online voting for the election begins on Monday, Oct. 1 ends Thursday, Oct. 4. Paper voting is available in Lobby 10 on Friday, Oct. 5 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and election results will be posted at midnight on Oct. 6.