SU elections move up three weeks, include nominations
At least one slate enters race
In an effort to make its election process more transparent and to lengthen the transition time for next year’s executives, Student Union has moved its election dates to March 4 and 5.
Last years’ elections were held on March 26 and 27.
The current Student Union (SU) executives reached the decision to move elections forward in an effort to allow their successors more time to adjust before moving into a full year of representing the student body. New executives will be inaugurated on March 31.
“We wanted to make sure that the new representatives had enough time to be able to get started and actually be comfortable in the position,” said SU President Brittany Perez. “They can actually work through summer and when they come back from summer be moving already.”
Last year, the new SU executives faced a crisis as the SU senate rejected the budget for the coming year. Perez said that SU has made the elections earlier in order to avoid a similar situation in the future.
“Having people elected on March 4 and 5 will give them time to work with [SU Vice President for Finance] Yewande [Alimi] and work with the rest of us, so they understand how the general budget is formed,” Perez said. “It’s in their hands to set the general budget, and it’s better that they know what they’re doing.”
In addition to the date change, this year marks the first time that students may nominate candidates for a position in SU. Before this year, the only way to begin the candidacy process was for potential candidates to submit election packets.
In past years, SU executives would ask people they knew to apply for positions, a system that Perez said worked, but that could be expanded to the rest of the student population. She said that though members of SU had met many student leaders, there was also a large number whom they did not know but whom they wanted to include in SU.
Students may nominate peers for the Senate, Treasury, class councils and executive council.
“What we try to do every year when someone is leaving their office is [determine] who’s going to fill that space,” Perez said. “We realized that there are probably a lot of people who may consider running one of these positions. This gives everybody in the school the opportunity to say, ‘Well, I think my friend should really do this.’”
While SU may want to attract those who have yet to involve themselves in student government, junior Jeff Nelson, the current SU vice president of administration, has formed a slate, comprised of five candidates with SU experience, to run for the executive positions in the coming elections.
Nelson says he does not want students to see a divide between those inside SU and those outside the organization. As such, one of his goals as president will be to better integrate the student body into SU.
“For too long, people get into the position [of president] and they say, ‘Okay, I’m Student Union president, so what do I do? I focus on Student Union,’” Nelson said. “I’m focused on improving the daily experience of every Wash. U. student.”
While Nelson ran opposed last year, Perez ran unopposed in both of her elections for the SU executive council—for vice president in 2007 and for president last year, when four out of five positions were uncontested. Both Perez and Nelson say they prefer that as many candidates contest spots as possible.
“If you run opposed, it makes people pay attention,” Nelson said. “You have the power to really make things happen on campus. When I ran opposed last year, I loved it. Last year we might have won, but people didn’t continue to pay attention, because well, ‘You were going to win anyway.’”