For the past six months, nearly all five of the Undergraduate Assembly seats reserved for Engineering students have remained empty after two separate elections were left without any candidates on the ballot. Student government leaders are now trying to garner more interest in the position by increasing outreach efforts ahead of another special election.
During the UA's general election in April, zero students formally declared their candidacy for the position. Only one seat was filled after a write-in candidate won.
In September, the Nominations and Elections Committee held a special election to fill the other four seats. Even then, no one ran for the positions. The last time all of the seats were filled was in February 2019, before one of the Engineering representatives resigned.
Student government leaders say Engineering students' intense workload and the NEC's lack of marketing may have contributed to the disinterest. UA Vice President and College senior Brian Goldstein said the UA has struggled in past years to maintain consistent Engineering representation, citing a vacancy that prompted a special election in spring 2018.
Now, the NEC says it is stepping up outreach efforts to attract candidates for a second special election next week.
Engineering and Wharton sophomore Kshitiz Garg, the sole Engineering representative, was elected in April after running a successful write-in campaign. He said the special election could have been marketed better, noting that he did not see any discussion about it on social media.
Engineering sophomore Erik Mucollari said the intense academic commitment would make it difficult to serve on the UA.
“You’re taking a bunch of classes,” Mucollari said. “With what free time you do have, you either want to contribute to some sort of activity or extracurricular that will probably want to boost your standing with finding a job afterward.”
Engineering students do not frequently talk about the UA, Mucollari said, and he was unaware that there would even be a special election next week.
Goldstein said the lack of Engineering representation may be an issue because of the school's environment, where students prioritize Engineering clubs over school-wide student government.
NEC Chair and College senior Olivia Crocker said she has already seen more interest in the position compared to last month's special election. The NEC took a “much more aggressive approach," and reached out to various Engineering clubs to encourage their members to run for the UA, Crocker said.
She said the NEC is aware of multiple students that intend to run, but she does not yet know the specific number of declared candidates. Students must turn in their candidate packets to the NEC to formally declare their candidacies on Thursday.
The voting period for the upcoming Engineering special election will open Monday, Oct. 21 at midnight and close on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 5 p.m.
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