May 9, 2003

Metamorphosis wins SG election: As voting moves online, participation jumps 28 percent from previous year

The slate members of metamorphosis stood nervously together on the second floor of the Reynolds Club Wednesday night, anxiously awaiting the results of the Student Government (SG) elections.

They rushed to the computer every several minutes and checked the SG Web site to see if the votes were posted. After several false alarms, the results finally appeared, showing that metamorphosis had won by a landslide.

The room erupted into cheers and hugs.

"We were really worried to begin with because the competition this year was so harsh," said Noeline Arulgnanendran, vice president for administration elect. "We knew we had a good chance, and we had a lot of endorsements, but still the competition was really hard."

Slate members were surprised not only by their victory, but also by the margin of votes that separated the slates. Metamorphosis received 625 votes, 233 more votes than the second place slate, The Slate that Shagged Me.

President elect Bo Shan partly attributed the high margin of victory to the slate's ability to capture the graduate student vote through continued discourse and communication.

"It was interesting. [Graduate students] seem to take it more seriously," Shan said. "Perhaps graduate students are a little more naive about Student Government, but they take it more seriously than the undergraduates."

Shan also believed that the endorsement of student newspapers--from both the Maroon and the Chicago Weekly News--helped their platform gain a level of respectability.

This year's election saw 1,900 students vote on the completely Web-based format, which represents a 28 percent increase from the previous year. With the elimination of paper voting, this statistic signifies an even larger rise in interest than the actual numbers suggest, student officials noted.

Student officials were particularly pleased by the high voter turnout and believe that the positive response is a result of the slates' sustained effort throughout the campaigning process.

"I think the increased turnout is a testament to the excitement surrounding this year's race and the time and effort all the slates put into the campaigning," said Raphael Satter, chairman of the Election and Rules Committee (ERC).

ERC officials met at 5 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss any last minute complaints about conduct during the election. Despite a slight controversy over e-mail spamming and the use of RSO listhosts, the committee decided that the laws governing the use of e-mail are too vague to take punitive action against any slates.

With no technical problems on the Web site on Wednesday, the results were posted without any substantial delay.

The campaigning process was a period of hard work and personal growth, according to metamorphosis slate members. Several slate members recalled chalking sidewalks in the quads after midnight and writing e-mails to potential voters well into the early morning as some of their most intense experiences during the last days before the election.

"We were just going around meeting random people and handing them pamphlets and brochures," Shan said. "Many people thought we were soliciting and told us they didn't want to give us any money. Being able to get out of your comfort zone in a situation like that is really important to your chances."

The thrill of the election is exciting but short lived, slate members said, adding that their real work is just beginning. In the next several weeks, metamorphosis will meet with the current SG slate and administrators to develop an agenda for next year and learn about their responsibilities as SG leaders.

"We want to become like sponges and learn as much as we can from the current administration," Shan said.

Current SG President Enrique Gomez said that outgoing and incoming slates often work very closely together to maintain a better sense of continuity within SG. He anticipates that the slate will plan out the first several weeks of the summer quarter in the weeks ahead, and then slowly ease into their positions as the fall quarter draws nearer.

The most pressing issue that the new slate will address is the annual allocations that take place at the end of the year. Metamorphosis wants to reform the Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC) to bring Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) closer into the process of decision- making. Slate members have suggested creating a committee of RSO leaders and improving the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities Web site as possible enhancements to the current system.

The new slate will officially take over SG on the last day of spring quarter, at which time the old slate will step down and hand over the political reins.

"We understand that this is a great responsibility," Shan said. "People are already asking us what we are going to do next year, and I can't blame them because that is what I would do if I was in their position."