SU prepares for unusually competitive elections

| Contributing Reporter

This week, 37 students will be running for 24 seats in an unusually contested set of Student Union elections.

Three constitutional amendments and half the seats in SU Senate and Treasury will be up for a campus-wide online vote. Elections will take place from Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 8 a.m. until Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.

“In comparison to past years, these are the most highly competitive and contested elections we’ve seen,” junior Mamatha Challa, vice president of administration for SU, said. “I think it’s exciting because it gives the student body the opportunity to choose who they want to be in office rather than just confirm people…it actually makes incumbents responsible for their past decisions.”

There are 17 students are running for 10 open Treasury positions, and 20 students running for 14 open Senate seats. Last year, 20 people ran for 19 open Treasury positions, and 14 for 13 Senate seats.

The three constitutional amendments being placed on the ballots include one to remove mentions of a nonexistent equipment committee from the constitution, another to reassign the role of advising to the Diversity Affairs Council to the Vice President of Administration and a third one to decrease Senate size—which will take place over future election cycles.

Challa added that beyond the number of petitions received, she was also pleased with the diversity of students who are running for SU this year.

“I think that we did a really great job this year recruiting a more diverse array of students than we normally do. One thing that I am excited for is having more female candidates for Senate, as well as some non-business school students running for Treasury. We also managed to recruit a high number of freshmen to run,” she said.

Sophomore Greg Porter noted that the increased interest in this year’s elections is pushing candidates to vie more fiercely for their seats.

“I think it will actually make people campaign more and try to get people who aren’t actually their friends [to] vote for them,” Porter said. “People are going to have to try harder and campaign harder…as opposed to just using popularity.”

Candidates have been drawing chalk advertisements across the South 40 and campus, posting flyers around campus, forming Facebook groups and talking to individual constituents.

Freshman Michael Byrne and junior Kai Zhang both dressed in formal attire and walked around the DUC to promote their campaigns for Senate.

Byrne, currently filling an open seat in Senate, said he hopes to use the position to promote school pride.

“I plan to use the coalitions I’ve built in the Senate to work on a range of issues—from fostering school spirit and tradition by emphasizing our alma mater song to improving the admissions process by incorporating student input,” he said.

Zhang, who is running for re-election, said he hopes to continue his projects already under way and start working on new initiatives, including building international recognition for the school.

“I [have] started to work closely with [Vice] Chancellor Baker…who is in charge of the library service. We have achieved and are doing a lot of things together, like [redesigning] the new illumination system of Whispers Café, decreasing of the login time of public computers in [the] library, computer lock projects, etc. We are now working very hard on the reliability of the printing system,” he said. “I can see my effort finally turns into result.”

Challa said that she generally appreciates students with the experience and initiative to take advantage of the positions they are applying for.

“I value candidates who have tangible ideas for improving the quality of life on campus, as well as candidates who have strong connections to the Wash. U. community and are willing to go out of their way to find out what the student body wants,” she said. “I also really value candidates who have experience actually being involved in student groups and a perspective of student life outside of Student Union.”

With additional reporting by Michael Tabb

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