October 15, 2010

College Council spot goes to tiebreaker

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Student Government (SG) announced three winners of the first-year College Council election yesterday in Hutch Commons, but the fourth is still up for grabs, due to an unprecedented tie between first-years Angela Wang and Katie Burkhart.

The 15 current members of College Council will vote in Stuart Hall Monday on who will fill the spot after both candidates speak in front of the Council.

The winners of the other three spots are first-years Ben Yu, Forrest Scofield and Alex Bennett. Their first vote as College Council members will be to elect who fills the last spot.

Wang and Burkhart both received 161 votes.

“I cannot believe there was a tie,” Bennett said. “Ties in hockey and ties in soccer are common, but not in an election.”

Bennett added that even though he knows the two candidates, he’s trying to go into the election with an open mind. “It will really come down to what they bring to the table, but it will be intense,” he said.

“Many of the candidates brought great ideas to the table,” fourth-year SG president Greg Nance said. “And I think the winners were the ones who stood out the most.”

Wang said she’s looking forward to the tie-breaker election because it gives her a chance to run mainly on College Council issues rather than name recognition.

“Mostly I want to improve communication,” said Wang, who mentioned improved transportation, subsidized laundry and printing, and better cell phone service as three issues that SG can address. “The student body doesn’t know what we do or can do.”

Regardless of the vote, Wang said she’s glad to have made it this far and isn’t anxious about the outcome. “I’m not that worried because I know I’ll stay involved with SG either way,” she said.

SG is hoping to expand student participation through action groups, teams of volunteers working on initiatives like getting student discounts at local businesses.

“Obviously 16 candidates didn’t win but we’re hoping to keep them all involved in SG,” Alarcon said.

Burkhart could not be reached for an interview.

A record 671 votes were cast, representing almost half of the Class of 2014, compared with 350 votes, or a quarter of the class, in last year’s election. An all-time high of 20 candidates ran for the four positions, one more than did last year.

“I think the large turnout is partially a reflection on these candidates,” said second-year Liaison to the Board of Trustees Frank Alarcon.

Most winners felt that getting their name out, especially in creative ways, was what gave them an edge. “When there are 20 candidates, you have to stand out some way,” Alarcon said.

“I spent quite a bit of money on chalk and posters. I spent a whole day chalking”, said Bennett, who thinks the name recognition helped him win. “When I got home I was sunburned on my arms and had cuts on my hands.”

Some people at the announcement pointed to Scofield’s use of social networks as one of the more creative tools used by the candidates. One of his strategies: take a bunch of pictures with U of C students holding a “Vote Forrest Scofield” sign and tag them all on Facebook.

“He had the best campaign I’ve ever seen,” said fourth-year College Council representative Joseph Dozier. “It’s easy; he’s already at parties. All he has to do is take pictures, upload them, and tag everybody.”