First years say they support the Penn Student Government's decision to postpone elections for a 2024 Class Board until spring 2021 despite some disappointment about the lack of class-wide events.
Students elected a new Undergraduate Assembly and 2021, 2022, and 2023 Class Boards after student government elections earlier this month. The Nominations and Elections Committee, however, postponed new student elections, which elect first-year and transfer students to the Class Board and UA, to the spring semester. The NEC cited a lack of in-person meetings and the challenges of the Class of 2024 to get to know each other as reasons for the election date change.
First years said while a Class Board would help facilitate class-wide social events, they are not overly concerned about the absence of student leaders to represent their class, due to alternative ways to meet people through clubs and organized meet-ups virtually or outdoors.
“It is kind of disappointing, because there's already such a limited amount of things we can do to meet other people,” College first-year Mikayla Cassidy said.
Cassidy said she nevertheless understands the decision by PSG. She said most first years have not had the opportunity to spend time on Penn’s campus or meet each other, which would make holding an election difficult.
She said she hopes students will plan class-wide gatherings over Zoom or other virtual platforms to allow students to connect despite the absence of a formal Class Board. College first-year Neha Gupta agreed, adding that class-wide events for the Class of 2024 would have been particularly helpful given the isolating virtual format of this semester.
Engineering first-year Mukil Shanmugam said that although he is sad his class will miss out on traditions usually planned by Class Board, such as Econ Scream when first years gather and scream before the first ECON 001 midterm, he sees the situation as an opportunity for his class to hold new events.
Shanmugam said that some first years have planned online meet-ups for the Class of 2024, such as a virtual speed-dating style event for first years to meet people at the beginning of the semester.
Shanmugam, who lives in Seattle, said Penn first years living in the area have also organized small outdoor gatherings, like picnics, on the day before midterms to decompress.
“We've been able to find small things like that, and unfortunately it's tough to do that across 2,000 people in our class, but on a smaller scale it’s definitely possible,” Shanmugam said.
College and Wharton first-year Celeste Xu agreed that the absence of class-wide events planned by the Class Board is disappointing but also pointed to the benefits of not having a Class Board this semester.
“There can be a lot of toxicity with the process of running for Class Board,” Xu said. “I got into Penn [Early Decision], and back in December, people were already making jokes about launching their campaigns for Class Board.”
Engineering and Wharton first-year Heyi Liu said she did not feel affected by the absence of a Class Board, as she has been able to meet people through her Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology cohort. She added that she expects to meet more people through clubs than she would have through events hosted by Class Board.
Liu said, however, she looks forward to coming to Penn in person some time in the future and being able to partake in traditions run by the Class Board. Some events held by Class Board include sophomore celebration U-Night, Hey Day, when juniors walk down Locust Walk with canes and foam hats to celebrate becoming seniors, and Feb Club, a month of events which includes a trip to Atlantic City, N.J., for seniors in February.
“I am very excited for when we can actually go back on campus and have the traditions and meet the class as a whole,” Liu said.