April 11, 2008

SG candidates gear up for hotly contested elections

Campaigns for Student Government (SG), College Council (CC), and Executive Slate are shaping up to be among the most competitive in recent memory, with hotly contested races in nearly every category.

SG comprises an Executive slate, as well as two assemblies, one representing graduate students and the other representing undergraduates, and two liasons to the Board of Trustees (UPA). The Executive slate includes the offices of President, Vice President for Administration (UPA), and Vice President of Student Affairs (UPSA). The College Council includes four representatives from each undergraduate class, and the Graduate Council has members from each graduate school. Elections are held every spring for these positions.

In the Executive Slate elections, four competing groups—YEP, Connect Four, the Moose Party, and One Campus—have launched campaigns for SG’s most coveted positions.

The favorites entering the race might be One Campus, headed by third-year Matthew Kennedy. This year’s VPSA, Kennedy has played key roles in the reopening of the A-level all-night study space in the Regenstein Library and securing grant money for the UnCommon Fund. Most recently, Kennedy worked with University administrators and Student Care Center (SCC) representatives to bring back emergency contraception to the SCC.

First-year Julian Quintanilla, a 2011 College Council class representative and One Campus’s nominee for VPA, facilitated conversations between the University and the Alderman earlier this year to secure the remaining #171 bus stop on East 57th Street. Toussaint Losier, the VPSA candidate, is a graduate student in the history department and worked with the Provost’s Office to compile the graduate funding report last quarter.

Graduate student Anthony Green and third-years Kati Proctor and Amanda Steel are Connect Four’s presidential, VPA, and VPSA candidates, respectively.

Connect Four’s name reflects their motto, “Three of Us and You,” and underscores the individual student’s role in campus dialogue.

“We’re looking to bridge the gap between the Student Government, the administration, the student, and the community. We want to connect students to resources that make it easier to succeed on campus. From a communication standpoint, the most important thing is that the slate has to be open for students coming to us with praise and gripes,” Steele said.

Steele chaired this year’s UnCommon Fund committee, which allocated grant money to quirky, creative student campus initiatives. She said that her involvement with both organizations inspired her bid for Executive Slate.

YEP—an acronym for the first names of candidates Yeonjean Gahng, Ellie Elgamal, and Petros Visser—is headed by first-year Ganhg, who garnered more notoriety last quarter when he won Kappa Alpha Theta’s Mr. University 2008 title. Visser, the VPA candidate, and Elgamal, the VPSA candidate, are also first years.

This year also marks the Moose Party’s 14th consecutive bid for office. The annual farce, featuring brothers of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, is yet to field a successful candidate run, although the fraternity will traditionally host a campus-wide party no matter the result. Last year, Moose candidates argued against the U-Pass at an SG debate, contending that University students don’t go downtown enough for the proposal to be cost-effective. Presidential candidate Andy Gallucci is a third-year, and VPA candidate Tim Leahy is a second-year. Joel McMurray is seeking VPSA office.

In the College Council races, a relative drought in candidates last year (most candidates ran unopposed) has been supplanted by competitive races in every graduating class year.

The candidates for the class of 2009 are David Grossman, Christina Melander, Gabriel Gaster, Nicholas Rodman, Greg Gabrellas, Akshay Birla, and Proctor. Both Proctor and Gabrellas are incumbents, and Proctor serves as SG Finance Committee Chair.

Rodman served in the position last year but sparked controversy when he criticized a Kick Coke Off Campus activist.

“I decided to run because I was always complaining about SG, so I felt I might as well get involved,” newcomer Grossman said. “[CC is] not very transparent, and they get bogged down in procedure.”

The candidates for the class of 2010 are Aaron Goggans, Prerna Nadathur, Jarrod Wold, Samuel Feldman, Alison Feenstra, Jay Kim, and Nick Zhao. Wolf and Kim are incumbents.

Kim received the highest vote total in last year’s election, and Wolf founded the Coalition of Chicago Colleges, an inter-collegiate organization of student government representatives that aims to unite colleges across the city into a solitary political force.

Zhao, who is also a candidate for Undergraduate Laision to the Board of Trustees, sees CC representative as a “backup” position. “I would rather have the Board of Trustees position,” Zhao said. “But I would serve just as well as a member of College Council.”

The candidates for the class of 2011 are Mark Redmond, Victor Leung, Frank Pucci, Robin Peterson, Brian Clarke, Arthur Baptist, Archibald England, Noah Chasek-Macfoy, Matthew Hartman, and Quintanilla.

Redmond emphasized his work with the Hyde Park community, citing his experience working for Alderman Prewinckle through the Neighborhood Schools Program. “I’m often critical of the way the University and the community relate to each other and of the way the university can be very overpowering in terms of community issues. I understand to a degree the needs and wants outside of the little realm of Hyde Park,” Redmond said.

The competitive races are not just limited to the Council and Executive Slate; the contest for Undergraduate Liaison features four candidates vying to replace two-term fourth-year incumbent Hollie Russon Gilman. Candidates include third-year Aliza Levine, Nick Zhao, second-year Joseph Dozier, and first-Year Louis Potok.

Levine, co-chair of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND), was heavily involved in protests last year against the trustees’ decision against divesting from Darfur. However, Levine does not see this as a problem that might affect her working relationship with the Board.

“The University has a respect for open dialogue, and I am confident that the Board of Trustees respects those values,” Levine said. She added that she wouldn’t be advocating any political positions in her official capacity as liaison.

Waging a candidacy against principles of politics in the role of liaison, Dozier, a prominent figure in the College Republicans, takes issue with past candidates getting elected because of their personal opinions.

“The liaison is a representative position, not a political one,” Dozier said. “Those that put up a misrepresentation fueled by nothing but hot air and ignorance is wrong and counterproductive.”

Graduate student Brian Cody is running unopposed for Graduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees.

Elections will be held from April 22–24 online at