Retention rate raises questions for the UA
Thirty-three percent of seniors who were elected as freshmen now sit on the general body
September 23, 2013, 7:10 pm · Updated September 23, 2013, 9:36 pm·
Peter Waggonner | DP
After the weekend’s freshman elections, the Undergraduate Assembly’s new members now outnumber the old.
The eight new members, along with 12 upperclassman representatives elected last semester, are starting their first terms. With two resignations last year and 56 percent of the body being new, the question becomes: How many members stay on past their first terms?
The percentage of members in the UA who were originally elected as freshmen and stay on past their first term decreases each year. Analysis shows that 33 percent of seniors who were elected as freshmen now sit on the general body, compared to 75 percent of sophomores and 50 percent of juniors.
Last semester, due to the general atmosphere and discontent within the Assembly, 10 representatives chose not to run for re-election.
“There was much disrespect, much backroom deals made; all of this made me feel very dejected,” Nikolai Zapertov, former UA representative who resigned last semester, said in an email that he sent to the UA.
Zapertov said he was disenchanted with the body’s progress on its initiatives. He was first elected in spring of his sophomore year. “In the past, there was never some kind of system where UA Exec encourages … people to run,” the College senior said in an email.
Though many decided not to continue, many new faces also ran last spring. There were 24 candidates — nine more than the number of candidates in the previous year. Wharton senior and UA Treasurer Tiffany Zhu also pointed to mentorship as a reason for this change.
“I think the reason there was such a high turnover … is because there wasn’t a lot of mentorship,” Zhu, one of only three fourth-term students on the UA, said. “[But] every year we try to be more and more like a family.”
First-term UA representative and Wharton junior Angela Rice, who has served as a member of the 2015 Class Board since her freshman fall, said she does see “a family relationship” within her UA committee, a smaller subgroup that works on themed projects.
Members now say there is a change within the UA.
College junior and third-term UA representative Danielle Golub explained that she thinks there is a new atmosphere of mentorship, which will encourage the newly elected representatives to run again. She cited UA Vice President and College junior Gabe Delaney as an example.
“Gabe wanted to be an RA but didn’t have time for it. He lives in the Quad so he can mentor freshmen,” she said. “Having people like that is really, really important.”
Currently, there are three members who are serving their fourth term in the UA. All three are on the Cabinet. This includes UA President and College and Wharton senior Abe Sutton as well as Zhu.
Golub said that she stayed because “I knew what the new Exec would bring to the UA.”
Zapertov admits that he has observed a turnaround in UA practices since his departure last spring.
“Every UA member is under greater scrutiny and under greater pressure to perform,” he said.
Golub also indicated that a leadership role on the UA allows members to really see their efforts come to fruition over time.
“I was thinking, ‘Where can I get the most done for this school?’ The UA was sort of the obvious choice at that point,” she said.