[img id="80225" align="alignleft"] Posting a second consecutive year of record-high turnout, the Student Government (SG) executive slate elections concluded Thursday night, with the Your SG slate narrowly defeating the Most Known Unknowns. A non-binding referendum advocating adoption of the U-Pass—a card that provides full-time students unlimited rides on any CTA bus or train during an academic term—was approved by a majority of voters.
“I was, honestly, astounded by the turnout,” said Meredith Filak, chair of the SG Elections and Rules Committee. “We had two really qualified slates, both as people and with the causes that they were interested in, which led to what I think was the best election in a long time.”
The election netted a total of 2,738 votes, handily surpassing last year’s record turnout of 2,417.
Your SG, composed of current SG College Council (CC) Chair Scott Duncombe, a third-year in the College; first-year Hilary Fruitman; and second-year Matt Kennedy, won 973 votes, edging out third-years Archie Chandrasekhar, Eric Vazquez, and R.J. Virissimo by 41 votes. The Moose Party, the Delta Upsilon fraternity’s annual satirical candidacy, won 398 votes.
“To see voter turnout levels this much higher than last year says something about how we ran our campaign, and how students are excited about our ideas to change Student Government,” said Duncombe, the incoming SG president.
The new slate plans to hit the ground running, with a series of meetings with the professional and graduate schools, discussions with students about the new coffee shop opening in Crerar Library, and updates to the SG website promised as forthcoming.
“We want to keep building the relationships and talking to the students we heard from during the election,” Kennedy said.
The candidates for the Most Known Unknowns said that while they were encouraged by how many voters supported them, they were disappointed to have fallen short.
“It was really exciting during the campaign to just be getting out there and talking with people and seeing what was important to them,” Chandrasekhar said. “It’s just hard to put all your energy into something like this.”
“I want to try to pursue some of the same ideas that we were talking about, even if through different means,” Vazquez said. “The record turnout was really cool; it basically shows that regardless of who wins, SG really means something.”
Third-year incumbent Hollie Russon Gilman defeated third-year Christian Brockman for the position of undergraduate liaison to the Board of Trustees, while Erica Simmons edged out current SG President Ian Muhlhauser for the job as graduate liaison.
“Last year, I had a bunch of ideas, but I didn’t really know what was going on or how to get things done,” Gilman said. “Now I can build on the experience of that year—now knowing who the key players at this University are—and get the ball rolling on some really exciting things.”
Two constitutional amendments on the ballot passed by substantial margins, both earning the support of at least 60 percent of voters.
Many SG members considered the U-Pass referendum a major reason for the record turnout. Students were asked whether they would like their division of the University to adopt the U-Pass, and how much they would be willing to pay for the program. More than 700 students signed a petition to put the initiative on the ballot, and 1,492 eventually voted in favor of the measure, with 1,293 in opposition. SG plans to release the average price students would be willing to pay after determining vote breakdowns by University division.
The election results were not the only source of drama at Thursday night’s announcement in the Reynolds Club. Sharlene Holly, Associate Dean of Students in the University and Director of ORCSA, angrily stormed from the cake-and-faux-champagne election celebration when, according to SG members, it was discovered that associates of third-year Milan Kidd, a candidate for undergraduate liaison, had brought alcohol into Hutch Commons. Kidd had launched a last-minute write-in campaign on Facebook, promising to drink copious amounts of beer with supporters. He and his friends left the celebration immediately after Holly’s departure and before security arrived.