Class of 2017: Get your name out
Wednesday marks the beginning of official campaigning for freshmen seeking UA and Class Board seats
September 10, 2013, 6:07 pm · Updated September 10, 2013, 11:51 pm·
Just four weeks after move-in, the freshman class have to choose their representatives in the Undergraduate Assembly and Class Board.
Tuesday night, the Nominations and Elections Committee ran the Candidates’ Meeting, an event where each candidate formally announces his or her bid.
How these candidates go on to win is another matter entirely. Freshman campaigns have come to be known for their antics, humorous advertisements and facial recognition tactics more so than issues-based debate. College sophomore Justin Taleisnik, two-term UA representative and Vice President of Finances on Class Board 2016, said, “To win an election, people have to know who you are.”
Last fall, Taleisnik won his spot in the UA by the biggest margin of votes — leading the winning group with 313 votes. His campaign was centered around a series of videos that got his name and face out and were “ridiculous enough to get your attention,” he said.
Today marks the beginning of monetary campaigning, when the 50 freshmen candidates will start campaigning in earnest — hanging up posters and flyering all over campus to get that name recognition. To be eligible, each candidate had to get 124 signatures from their classmates. Voting for the race will begin Sept. 16.
“I didn’t try to be overambitious with a platform,” Taleisnik said of his campaign, pointing out that as freshmen, it’s hard to know very much about the workings of the school. “I think at the end of the day…campaigning is all about relationships.”
College junior Kanisha Parathasarathy, NEC Vice Chair for Education, agreed. “As much as I would like to say that it is issues driven,” what ends up working for the winners is face to face meeting.
However, Parathasarthy does point out that in the spring elections, when freshmen, sophomores and juniors elect representatives for the next year, “campaigns usually turn more issue-driven.”
The dual elections system for first-year candidates gives freshmen a chance in the spring to review the representatives they elected in the fall. “There’s definitely some sort of incumbency advantage,” Taleisnik said.
“Running the second time is easier, if only because you know what you’re doing,” he added.
Parathasarthy demurred, claiming that the advantage was “not that potent.” She added that voter turnout in the fall — an election limited to freshmen — is always higher than in the spring, when the UA President and Vice President are elected by three undergraduate classes.
At Tuesday’s meeting, NEC vice chair for Elections and Engineering junior Frederick Ding reminded candidates to campaign personally. “You are actually the best way to get yourself out there,” he said.
“Don’t have your head in the clouds,” he added about campaign promises.
Wharton freshman Allyson Ahlstrom, who is running for Class Board, recognized the importance of meeting people, but is going for an ideas-based approached. “I’m running on ideas. It can’t possibly just be [a popularity contest],” she said.
Some of Ahlstrom’s electorate, however, thought otherwise. “I’m voting for [the people I’ll vote for] because I know them,” said College freshman Josue Criado. “They have good ideas too, but it’s because I know them.”
A previous version of this article stated that freshman vote more in the fall than in the spring. They have higher voter turnout in the fall. Additionally, voting in the fall is limited to only freshman.