[img id="80171" align="alignleft"] Student Government (SG) saw a high turnout in this week’s elections for the position of first-year representative in the College Council (CC) as well as positions that will influence future allocation of RSO funds.
In a General Assembly meeting Wednesday night, CC and Graduate Council (GC) delegates elected this year’s eight-member Annual Allocations (AnnAll) committee, which distributes 40 percent of the funds that SG receives from the student activity fee. AnnAll members meet during sixth week of spring quarter to allocate funds to prominent RSOs.
Competition for the AnnAll seats was substantial this year, with 22 candidates vying for eight positions. In comparison, 25 candidates ran for 16 open seats during the University-wide CC elections held in autumn.
“We were really encouraged by the turnout and all the candidates we had; it was definitely one of the stories of the night,” said David Courchaine, SG vice president for student affairs.
Teofilo Reyes and Elise Berman, both graduate students in the department of comparative human development, were automatically appointed to the council as the only graduate students running, since AnnAll rules require at least two graduate students to serve on the board.
After 30-second speeches, GC and CC elected third-years Archie Chandrasekhar, Zach Binney, Eve Ewing, and Scott Duncombe, the current CC chair. Second-year Matt Kennedy and first-year Hilary Fruitman were also selected to serve on AnnAll.
“I would like to be on the annual allocations committee because this is one of the best opportunities to make an impact on how RSOs will run next year,” Kennedy said in a written statement issued to voters. “Helping RSOs out as much as possible and funding the best events is one of the most important roles of student government.”
“As an R.A., I have to cooperate with a lot of people. I have to be aware of what students need, and I need to be able to find pragmatic ways of getting them what they need. This is a great opportunity to do that,” Ewing said.
With the exception of Ewing, all of the undergraduates elected were current members of the CC and likely benefited from their familiarity with the voting members of student government. The closest runner-up, Ryan Kaminski, also sits on the CC.
“It was really interesting to see that almost everyone elected was already associated with student government,” Courchaine said.
The general assembly also appointed fourth-year CC representative Ishad Shakir, who ran unopposed, to a vacant seat on the Elections & Rules committee. Under a constitutional change adopted this year, SG will hold elections for the executive slate and both councils during fifth week of next quarter.
In the CC meeting Thursday night, council members selected from 12 first-years campaigning for the open seat created by Maximus Weikel’s resignation. Because of the large number of candidates, an initial vote was needed to narrow the field to Ben Esparza, Kimberlee Pelster, and Christopher Williams. Esparza emerged with a majority of the votes after a second round of voting.
“In the months since I started my academic career at Chicago, I have noticed a sense of apathy of the student body toward student government,” said Esparza in a written statement. “I want to help engage students with their government and their administration.”
Esparza ran for the first-year seat in the fall election but finished fifth, falling short of Weikel.
“Judging by their statements, it seems a lot of these first years are really thinking hard about ways to improve student life and are already familiar with some of the most basic issues we’re grappling with in SG today,” Duncombe said. “Maybe it’s indicative of the scope of challenge we face as an organization or of the consensus among the student body that something must be done.”