April 29, 2005

Incumbent wins close SG election

Better Slate Than Never emerged as the newly elected executive slate on Wednesday night, giving current SG president Robert Hubbard a rare second term.

Nina Chihambakwe, the chair of the Elections and Rules Committee, made the announcement at the SG Election Night Press Conference and Celebration in Hutch Commons. Better Slate Than Never garnered 608 votes, the Doomsday Party and the Moose Party received 507 and 230 votes respectively.

Hubbard told the Maroon after the celebration that he would not answer questions. Phil Caruso, who will be vice president for administration, also told the Maroon he would not answer questions, saying he was offended by the newspaper's unenthusiastic endorsement of the slate in an unsigned editorial ("Better Slate Than Nothing," 4/22/05).

Lola Thompson, the vice president for student life, however, was willing to comment. She said Better Slate than Never was excited and looking forward to the next year, and was impressed by the campaign efforts of the Doomsday Party, who had only about 100 votes fewer than the winning slate.

Thompson said the slate plans to concentrate on their campaign pledges. "We plan to focus on improving campus safety by reforming the drunk van service (and possibly opening up the job to student drivers) and by working with the transportation committee to come up with a solution to the CTA cuts," she said. "We want to encourage more communication on campus and we plan to do this by hosting faculty-student discussions of important campus issues and by holding workshops to help RSO leaders to better take advantage of campus resources." Thompson also suggested allowing students to use money placed on UCIDs for student-run coffee shops and installing plasma screen TVs to monitor buses at the Reynolds Club, as goals.

The Moose Party was upbeat during the press conference, despite having failed to win a single election in the last 11 years. Party members extended an invite to the Moose Party "Victory Celebration" at the Delta Upsilon fraternity house, as they feasted on the cake and sparkling grape juice provided by ORCSA.

"It's rigged by the Commies," said Noah Yavitz, the Moose Party vice president for student life. "We will be planning at our party on Friday to overthrow the socialists and reinstate the imperialists. When the revolution comes, the streets will be running with blood and other alcoholic liquids and it will be full of people not wearing pants."

In a tightly competitive race for the undergraduate student liaison for the Board of Trustees position, Ben Walsh, a third-year in the College, won with 480 votes. In second place was second-year Daniel Kimerling with 325 votes followed by Alex Stepick, also a third-year, with 285 votes. Political science graduate student Anne Harrington ran unopposed for graduate student liaison.

During the celebration, Walsh said that his first priority was scheduling a meeting with Bill Michel, the vice president for student life in the College, and Harrington and then getting in contact with the trustees to facilitate better student accessibility to the board.

Walsh said his agenda includes improving transportation and facilities services and healthcare. "Transportation is important; it's an issue for both undergraduates and graduates who live off-campus," he said. "And then there are health care issues, such as the health insurance policy for graduate students, but also health care services such as the [Student Care Center]. In addition, there's facilities, which need to be improved for a growing campus."

Walsh said he was glad that there was a close race for liaison and congratulated his fellow candidates for their hard work. According to Walsh, the competition showed students had an interest in who was going to represent their interests to the board.

Approximately 1,400 students cast a ballot, almost 1,000 votes fewer than last year's voter turnout. Students during the 2004 election witnessed more campaigning with a bombardment of fliers, handouts, and chalkings from the four slates running that year.

Michel, who was on-hand for the celebration, said he was looking forward to working with all the winners to concentrate on issues addressed during the election.

"One of the things that is good about elections is the issues it brings about to address," Michel said. "I hope the newly elected officials will be able to bring up these issues that were brought up during the debates."

Michel said that, as he understands it, Better Slate Than Never wants to review and improve the process the Finance Committee (SGFC) uses to allocate funds, and hopes that the new slate will work hard with student leaders to put together a number of events.

The issues of inaccesbility and student apathy toward SG that arose during the debate were also noticeable during the press conference. The SG celebrants occupied a small corner of Hutch while the majority of students in the Commons appeared oblivious to the gathering.

Tim Husson, a third-year in the College, came to Hutch to do some work 15 minutes after the celebration started. Husson, who did not vote during the election, said he did not know the SG results had been announced, but that he would not have cared.

"I'm not convinced SG affects my daily life," Husson said. "I don't see a purpose for it. Perhaps there is one, I just don't know."