Elections usher in new class of officers

By Robert Katz

The 2004 College Council elections ended Wednesday night with an allotment of 14 class officers but candidates were disappointed by the low level of publicity and debate surrounding their campaigns.

Kyle Lee, a first-year class officer, said he always imagined the process to be intensely stressful, extremely polarized, and fraught with discussion. “I never dreamed the campaign would consist entirely of who had the best posters or which candidates had the best name-recognition,” he said.

The first-year class had the highest turnout. They elected Leah Endalkatchew with 253 votes.

At least 131 second-years, 100 third-years, and 89 fourth-years voted. The raw numbers were unavailable at press time.

Pat Rich, a first-year class officer, said that the numbers for the freshman class may have been inflated by the increased size of the freshman class.

Rich said that many first-years he spoke to simply did not know about the elections. “The candidate bios on the website were helpful, but I still don’t think anyone really knew anything about the candidates,” he said.

He suggested that the short amount of time allocated for the candidates to campaign contributed to the underexposure. Rather than pushing elections back, the slate should push campaigning forward by speeding up the required administrative labors, Rich said. “I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes,” but there should be faster way to do it, he said.

Rebecca Brocker, a second-year in the College, said that she did not vote in the election.

“I didn’t recognize any of the candidates when I went online,” she said. “I think more detail [to tell the candidates apart] would have been nice.”

She went on to say that debates would have helped differentiate the candidates.

David Courchaine, a returning second-year class officer, said that the slate took three steps to publicize the elections.

First, they set up a table at the RSO Fair the weekend school started to encourage students to participate in student government and vote. They then put a flier on the Student Government bulletin board in the 57th Street entrance to the Reynolds Club. Finally, Robert Hubbard, the president, e-mailed the student body from SG’s e-mail address on the last day of elections to remind students to vote. “The slate should have let people know sooner,” Courchaine said.

He pointed out that the candidates should have been responsible for promoting the election. “I don’t want to put it all on the slate,” Courchaine said.

Rich praised the e-mail, saying it was “beneficial, not assaultive. It was a general reminder for people to vote,” he said. “I don’t see how sending it out earlier would have helped.”

However, the e-mail was limited in its effectiveness, according to some. “You mean the e-mail I deleted before I read it?” asked Gregory Smolen, a third-year in the College.

Jack Huizenga, a second-year in the College, said that he attempted to vote after seeing the e-mail, but the site was too slow to function. “I didn’t know any of the candidates, but if I had been able to get on the site I would have been able to figure it out.”

Peter Bartoszek, a second-year in the College, did not like the site either. “The voting website wasted my time with its pedestrian and unnecessary animation,” Bartoszek said. “The website designer put function after form when they designed the unnecessary animation, and it’s not like the form was that great.”

Lia Horton, a second-year in the College, chimed in. “The graphics of the site take a while to load,” said Horton. “Please, I just want to vote.”

She added that the bios were useful for learning about the candidates. “You wouldn’t know about them unless it was your friend,” she said.

Feliks Pleszczynski, who ran for third-year class officer, said that it was all about getting people to vote for you, “even if it was a stranger,” he said. “That’s what Siddharth Bhammar [a new third-year class officer] did. He walked up to people and asked them to vote for him.”

Jonathan Williams, a second-year in the College, summed up the problem with the voting when he simply said that none of the candidates stood out. “You see these chalk markings on the ground asking you to vote for a particular candidate,” he said. “But that gives you no indication of why you should vote for them.”