SU elections see lower turnout than fall; most candidates uncontested
Student Union elections on Tuesday saw little competition, with only one contested executive position and most of the class council candidates running unchallenged.
The election filled Executive, Senate, Treasury, Class Council and Olin Business Council positions on the basis of votes from 2,117 students, or 31.5 percent of the undergraduate student body. That number is slightly down from the fall elections, in which 35.4 percent of students voted.
Slates were eliminated from this year’s elections, so students had to individually decide to run for office. SU Exec had four uncontested positions, including president, while sophomore Mike Holtz ran against junior Hunter Malasky for vice president of administration, winning with 59.41 percent of the vote.
The other winning candidates for the executive positions include junior Jordan Finkelstein, president; sophomore Kenneth Sng, VP of finance; junior Chan Kwon, VP of public relations; and junior Bonner Williams, VP of programming.
For Senior Class Council, Christine Lung defeated Tommy Nathan for president by a voting margin of 49.64-41.19 percent, and Ishi Metkar edged out David Gu for VP of finance with 52.15 percent of the vote. Lung and Metkar will be joined by MinJi Suh at VP of administration, Adam Cohen-Nowak at VP of public relations and Kabir Gill at VP of programming on next year’s class council.
Some students were concerned about the lack of competition in the elections this year, including sophomore Max Cormier.
“It makes me uncomfortable,” Cormier said. “I don’t know [Finkelstein’s] qualifications, but whenever someone runs unopposed it makes me feel uncomfortable. Competition is a good thing.”
Finkelstein himself was not pleased with the lack of competition, noting that it points to a systematic failure within Student Union to recruit interested students.
“It’s definitely nice for the candidates who are running unopposed, but I think it’s a sign of the recruitment and retention issue within SU, and I think there is a clear disconnect between students and how they view SU and why they don’t want to run,” Finkelstein said.
“It is a telling issue for SU that we’ll be working on, to have every election be a contested election, just so that ensures students make the right choice and that they have a choice in their election,” Finkelstein added.
Sng, the VP-elect of finance, also noted that he was not very happy about running unopposed.
“I was a little disappointed because I prepared a lot for this campaign…but I feel like it’s the spirit that counts. Even if I run unopposed, I’m still going to give out buttons, make a website, make a Facebook page—that respects the spirit of the election. It shouldn’t change anything regardless of whether people run for a contested spot,” Sng said.
At Monday’s SU debate, which featured presentations from all Exec and Senior Class Council candidates, only about 15 students attended.
Sng characterized the event as more of a question-and-answer session but still found that format helpful in learning about the positions of other candidates.
Current Student Union President Emma Tyler also expressed her disappointment about the lack of competition but attributed it to the lack of slates.
“I’m disappointed in that there aren’t more contested Exec candidates this year, but I think that that will come with time and with more intentional efforts for recruitment and retention,” Tyler said.
Tyler said that for the remainder of her time as president, she does not have any new agenda items but hopes to see some of her projects reach a sustainable level, such as the newly created Advocacy Fund. She also plans to spend the time working with the newly elected executive members of Student Union to achieve a better transition of power.
“For the first time, Exec is going to have a very long and intentional transition and shadow period, which is something we missed out on,” Tyler said. “We were kind of thrown into these positions, and frankly, it took us a long time to catch up and really be effective, so we’re hoping that the day the Execs are inaugurated, they can get the ball rolling on things they want to get done. So at this point, our priority is definitely an effective transition.”