Fourteen votes changed the game for College sophomore Dan Bernick, who was elected Undergraduate Assembly President on Friday.
Bernick won by a historically small margin in contrast to his predecessors, Engineering and Wharton senior Tyler Ernst and 2011 College graduate Matt Amalfitano, who earned their presidency by a margin of 784 and 830 votes, respectively.
This year, there was no clear winner from the onset of the presidential race. The closely contested election spoke to the quality of both candidates and the unique mix of knowledge and enthusiasm that they brought to their campaigns. The small margin also reflects the fact that both candidates made valuable suggestions on how to utilize the UA as a vehicle to improve student life.
Now that the polls have closed and campaign posters are ready to retire from their spots on Locust Walk, we’d like to see newly elected members learn from each other and strive to create a more collaborative atmosphere within the UA.
We’d also like to see the UA do more to engage with students. Bernick and his opponent College junior Jake Shuster both admitted, over the course of their campaigns, that the UA has an image problem — too many students aren’t quite sure what it does.
Bernick even went as far to recognize that some of the things that the UA does is irrelevant to students and that that is something to change.
While this year’s voter turnout marked a slight decrease from the previous two years, 41 percent of eligible voters — a respectable number — still cast their votes. The UA, however, should not rest on its laurels or forget the fact that it is tasked with representing the entire undergraduate student population.
Members should continually think of ways to engage their constituents and in doing so, think about the 59 perent of undergraduates who chose not to cast a vote.
The truth is, many students don’t understand the intricacies of what the UA does. It falls upon members to do a better job of communicating their projects and initiatives to the student body.
The UA has the capacity to lobby administrators on behalf of the student body. In order to be effective, it must strive to create a visible presence on this campus and lie at the heart of student life.