The University's bulletin boards have recently been covered with a multitude of colorful flyers and its sidewalks scrawled with chalk, signaling the upcoming elections for the Student Government executive slate, which will be held on May 5, 6, and 7.
Students interested in running were handed election petitions on April 11 and were given a week to acquire the 250 signatures needed to run as an official slate. Since that time, six slates of three students each have campaigned to capture the positions of Student Government (SG) President, Vice-President of Student Affairs, and Vice-President for Administration for the next academic year.
This year's slates are: Metamorphosis, MAC, the Moose Party, The Slate that Shagged Me, Charlie's Angels, and Click Here to Vote.
After becoming an official slate, each group met with the Elections and Rules Committee (ERC), the organization that oversees the elections, where each received a copy of the rules governing the elections and was advised about the general process of campaigning.
Many slates have also been in contact with the current executive slate to gain valuable advice and counseling about running for Student Government.
"The current executive slate doesn't have an official role in the elections," said Enrique Gomez, president of Student Government. "But we do help and advise potential slates that come to us. We try in a way that is unbiased, of course, to offer any kind of assistance that we can."
Gomez added that the executive slate and the ERC have also been in constant contact and have tried to form a reciprocal relationship where both parties can ask questions and support the election process.
To date, no major arguments have arisen between the slates, though several minor infractions involving the removal of posters have been noted.
Student officials said that issues with posters have been a habitual problem during the elections, but they anticipate no major problems this year.
"Postering is a tricky question. We want to give candidates an opportunity to voice their opinions in an open environment," Gomez said. "We want people to play fair, but be able to get their ideas out at the same time."
Two years ago, a fight erupted between members of different SG slates over the tearing down of flyers, an incident that marred the credibility of the election and the face of Student Government.
This year's slates appear to be on good terms with each other, however, and have been described as organized and reasonable.
"I actually know, perhaps not personally, everyone who's running on a slate," said Noeline Arulgnanendran, a member of the Metamorphosis slate. "I think it's cool that so many slates are running, and each slate has a lot of good ideas about the changes they'd like to implement, so whoever wins, I hope they'll tackle some of the projects mentioned by other slates."
The most important change to this year's election is that votes will be cast exclusively online at the Student Government Web site, as student organizers have decided to phase out the cumbersome ballot voting that was originally conducted in the Reynolds Club.
Raphael Satter, chairman of the Elections and Rules Committee, believes that consolidating the voting process will make the elections more time-efficient and accurate. Satter and the committee are currently working with Network Services and Information Technology (NSIT) to design a Web site that will be both reliable and easily accessible to students.
"There is still work being done on the Web site, but when we are finished, everything will be done online and should be automated," Satter said.
With six slates running--two more than last year--electronic balloting and campaigning will play a larger role in raising student interest in particular slates.
Some slates have set up their own Web sites to give information about their platforms and members.
The rise in the number of slates this year has been encouraging for many people involved in SG, an organization whose relevance to the student community has often been questioned.
Gomez believes that the current slate was able to form a more important bond with the administration than in the past and, as a result, has attracted the interest of more students.
"SG holds more gravity because students are actually seeing things getting done," Gomez said. "They see the late night study space in the Reg, they see the online syllabi in the Chalk Web site, they see the study breaks and other forms of student outreach that we have tried to do this year."
Many of the potential executive slates are also excited about the amount of participation.
"We feel Student Government's principal goal should be serving the student body and addressing the issues about which students really care," said Brittany Simmons, a member of the The Slate that Shagged Me. "In the past few years, SG has been increasingly better at fulfilling this role, and this is something we wish to continue."
For now, there is no clear front-runner to win the election, and results could come down to the impact of slate activities this weekend, student officials said.
"It's a wide-open race," Gomez said.
The slates will publicly express their platforms at a debate sponsored by the InterHouse Council on May 1 at 8 p.m. in Hutchinson Commons.