October 20, 2009

Special election fills College Council vacancies

College Council (CC) filled four vacancies in a special election Friday, held following an unprecedented number of resignations. Ten CC members recruited and voted for the candidates, who will fill out the committee of 16 students elected to represent the student body. Two sitting CC members did not vote.

Earlier this month, CC members were struggling to find candidates interested in running for the special election. Ultimately, five fourth-years and two third-years ran.

Fourth-years Race Wright, Rob Reavis, and Anya Thetford join Jay Kim, the only fourth-year elected during the normal elections. Reavis, a former SG member who took a sabbatical while abroad last year, stressed the importance of small, doable projects over lofty long-term goals, while Wright indicated the need for “invigorating a dynamic student life.”

Julian Quintanilla won the empty third-year seat in a close vote, beating out Yeonjean Gahng.

Gahng, as well as Joann Hunter, was not elected but was designated as an alternate in the case of future resignations and executive office appointments. Fourth-year Nick Zhao was not chosen for the council.

The committee held the special election to fill the seats of fourth-years Jarrod Wolf and Chris Williams, SG president and vice president for student affairs, respectively, and Prerna Nadathur, who resigned to devote more time to a social justice RSO.

Third-year Mark Redmond’s seat was also left vacant after Redmond stepped down, citing his new position as R.A. and his frustrations over CC's efficacy. Typically, seats would be filled by last year’s runners-up, but CC had none to choose from as last year’s races were all uncontested.

Quintanilla, who served as a CC representative his first year and vice president of administration his second year, is returning to SG after his slate lost last year’s elections. He did not run for CC last year because he wanted to dedicate his time to preparing his slate.

“I’ve missed SG work dearly these past few months and now see how much value I can add to SG and the student body,” Quintanilla said about his decision to return to CC.

In an interview with the Maroon, third-year CC representative Jason Cigan, who is running for CC chair, said that Gahng, who has won Mr. University two years in a row, would have been more representative of the student body than Quintanilla.

He described Quintanilla, who ran for Executive Slate but not CC, as “overqualified,” and said that some CC members “were worried that Julian maybe only wanted to be College Council if he wasn’t going to be president.”

Fourth-year CC representative Jay Kim, who said she would likely run for CC chair, saw the special election as an opportunity, not a sign of weakness. “For the special election, CC members were able to reach out personally to students who are responsible, committed, and interested in contributing to the student community through SG,” Kim said.

College Council hopes to devote this year to smaller, more manageable projects, such as increasing recycling on campus, installing machines for CTA cards on campus, and adding bike racks.