Don’t Boo. Run. You may recognize the adaptation of the famous tagline from President Obama’s 2016 speech at the Democratic National Convention. If there is anything that we have learned from Penn’s efforts to increase voter turnout this fall, there is immense power in people turning out to make their opinions known. There’s another, even more impactful way to have your voice heard, and that is to get involved yourself. This is a call to all first-year, sophomore, and junior students to run for Undergraduate Assembly and Class Board.
If you don’t know, the UA is the elected, representative branch of Penn student government charged with providing advocacy, funding, and services to the undergraduate student body. We do this by working on projects with student groups and administrators, lobbying for policy changes, and providing services like free legal advice and shuttles to the airport for Thanksgiving and spring breaks. Class Boards take on the role of providing for class bonding through events, upholding traditions, and promoting class apparel so that you can look Ivy League chic in your P Sweater strutting down Locust Walk. With spring elections coming up, you have a chance to join either or both of these organizations to be able to make a difference.
Too often at Penn, people are quick to complain about everything that is wrong without taking any action to solve the problems that they encounter. While it’s easy to post a sarcastic meme about Huntsman Hall shutting down between 2 and 7 a.m. or write a Facebook status about how a professor scheduled an exam due during Reading Days (which, by the way, isn’t allowed to happen, and you should 100 percent report if it does), neither of those actions really do anything to help the cause you care about.
What does help is taking the initiative to run for UA and working with the students, faculty, and staff who are committed to providing for a better Penn. Booing leads to noise, running leads to results.
The idea of running an election can seem daunting — having to gather names on a petition, setting up a social media campaign, not to mention going out and getting votes — but I would encourage you to take the leap if you are even remotely thinking about doing so. While it certainly takes a time commitment to run in and win an election, there could be no greater reward than having the chance to improve the Penn experience for your current and future peers.
In addition, the Nominations and Elections Committee, the branch of student government that runs elections, is able to support you, answer questions about campaigning best practices, and even provide financial assistance for campaigning (however, it is possible to run for UA or Class Board for $0, and often barely costs more than $5–$10).
You can find information on how to run at penn-nec.org, and take note that candidate forms are due by March 28 at 5 p.m. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to Kiley Marron, the NEC vice chair for elections with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or me personally to know what it is like to run for and be on the UA at email@example.com.
This is your chance to work toward a better Penn. If you feel the calling to make change, don’t boo, run.