Students canvass for College Council elections

By Justin Sink

The Student Government (SG) College Council (CC) elections are heating up as candidates vying to represent their respective class years chalk campus sidewalks and badger friends to vote in next week’s contest.

SG comprises an Executive Slate, which was elected late last month, and two deliberative bodies: the Graduate Council, comprising a graduate student representative from each year and each division; and CC, with four representatives from each class (elected annually).

This year will mark the first time that the CC elections are held in spring quarter—usually the student body chooses representatives in the fall, but a constitutional amendment ratified last year moved up the contests for second-, third-, and fourth-year seats in hopes of increased productivity from the incoming council members over summer vacation. First-year elections will still be held a few weeks after the start of next year.

Voting opens on the SG website Tuesday of next week and will continue until Thursday afternoon. The results will be announced at a ceremony in Hutchinson Commons Thursday at 6 p.m.

The results for some of the races, however, are already all but determined. In the fourth-year race, with only four candidates seeking the four available positions, Christian Brockman, Dan Kimerling, Kyle Lee, and Ben Shepard will likely claim the seats, barring a substantial write-in candidacy. Fourth-year positions have been traditionally difficult to fill; in last year’s election, only three candidates fielded official campaigns.

“The biggest issue facing College Council next year is its current negative image in the minds of many students,” said Lee in an e-mail interview. “People associate CC with heavy-handed blunders like the New Initiatives Fund allocation this year, the LCD screen in the Reynolds Club last year, and various internal disputes in the past that have occurred between representatives.”

The council took up impeachment proceedings against Lee earlier this year for allegedly homophobic and harassing remarks he made in an e-mail to another council member, although CC eventually voted not to remove him from his seat.

The third-year race also features just four candidates, meaning that Jennifer Akchin, Greg Gabrellias, Jim McAnelly, and Kati Proctor stand to assume the seats, unless a write-in campaign is mounted. Notably, none of the third-year candidates held a seat on the council this year.

“I believe strongly that students should have a much larger role in shaping the environment of the University and its policies and see Student Government as a potentially effective means for increasing student involvement with University decisions,” Proctor said.

Most of the political drama in the election focuses instead on the race for second-year seats, in which ten candidates are vying for the four available positions. As with the Executive Slate elections last month, candidates have primarily advocated improvement of late night study spaces for students, campus transportation, and communication between SG, the student body, and the administration.

The candidates for the class of 2010 are Ashley Alger, Chris Benedik, incumbent Abhery Das, incumbent Benjamin Esparza, Joseph Farias-Eisner, Jay Kim, Brian Meyer, Robert Reavis, incumbent Adama Wiltshire, and Jarood Wolf.

“I’m running because I feel that there’s a gap between the students and our government, and I believe that this distance needs to close before SG can be as effective as it should in pushing student interests and supporting our goals,” Benedik said.

Many candidates have forwarded specific propositions, from new transportation routes to environmentally friendly green initiatives for campus. Others launched blogs and Facebook groups that detailed their platforms and their reactions to campus events.

“I feel that it is especially important that communications between students, their student government, and the administration is as fluid as possible,” said Kim in an e-mail interview. “Student government cannot effectively represent the students and respond to these new changes if the students do not know who their representatives are or what the important issues being discussed in SG are.”