UA, Class Board kick off new round of campaigning
This year's cycle sees higher than usual turnover in UA, competition in class board
March 13, 2013, 1:02 am·
It’s officially campaign season for student government. This year the election season is seeing a striking number of new candidates.
By the numbers in the Undergraduate Assembly elections, there are 24 people running for 16 College seats, nine running for five Wharton seats, and two running for one Nursing seat. Only the Engineering seats will go uncontested.
Students seeking to be a part of the UA or a class board officially started their campaigns Monday. According to UA Vice President and Wharton and College junior Abe Sutton, this year’s election is an “intense competition” and he is “especially happy with the number of new candidates — freshmen and sophomores who have not been on the UA in the past.”
“This new blood will help ensure a productive UA focused on issues that are relevant to the student body,” Sutton, who is running unopposed for the position of UA president, said in an email.
This year’s candidates number nine more than the total last year. This increase is even more notable in the wake of some departures from the UA. Ten sitting and eligible representatives are not running for re-election.
Speculation of the causes for their unwillingness to run for another term range from being worn out to a sort of disenchantment, according to College freshman and representative Varun Menon.
“But this year seemed to have a lot of people who decided the UA was just not for them,” he said. “I think definitely for some of those members, it has to do with the effectiveness of the UA in accomplishing its mission.”
Menon added, “You’re definitely going to have people who find that they don’t have the time to give to the UA to do their best, and some definitely can’t, for any reason.”
One of the candidates new to student government is Wharton and College freshman Sebastian Negron-Reichard. He ran for Wharton chair in the fall to lose in the closest election in years, but is back into the political game.
“I always thought it’d be good to work in the Wharton community and improve class unity,” he said. “Losing was frustrating, but I thought there had to be another way to get involved in the community, so when candidate packets came out last month, I jumped on the chance.”
Negron-Reichard, who is running for the position of Wharton representative in the UA, feels a sense of public disenchantment with government, which spurred his candidacy. “One of the most important things that I saw last semester was that everyone in our class was very engaged with the freshman elections,” he said. “But after that, and talking to the upperclassmen, I see that there’s not nearly the same amount of interest.”
On the other side of the elections, class boards have their own series of surprises, especially in the freshman class. Class board elections are traditionally not very competitive affairs after freshman year, Sutton said, but this cycle there is at least one contested seat for nearly every board.
The 2016 board is especially contested — all but three spots are being challenged. Current 2016 class board Wharton chair and freshman Samina Hydery holds one of the challenged positions. “I think part of it is that a lot of Wharton kids are looking for leadership positions, and class board is a natural way to find leadership,” she said about the influx of new candidates.
“I think most of the candidates are great leaders, but I think my board works really well together — we’ve got a lot of synergy,” she added.
Despite all the volatility in this year’s cycle, there is a general sense of optimism. “Members on the UA want to see a change, and with the tone of dissatisfaction that’s going on around campus, hopefully the new leadership will come in with a strong desire to help students,” Menon said.