Facing the prospect of an uncontested election for UGBC president and vice president for 2014-15, the Elections Committee (EC) has re-opened the applicant pool for candidates and delayed the start of the election season.
In an email sent to the student body on Monday, the EC announced that Sunday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. will be the new deadline for candidates to apply, extended from the original Jan. 16 deadline. The election season, which was previously scheduled to run from Feb. 3 to Feb. 14, will now be held from Feb. 10 to Feb. 19.
The team that was initially running unopposed is made up of Nanci Fiore-Chettiar and Chris Marchese, both A&S ’15. Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese will run for president and executive vice president, respectively.
According to Rachel Fagut, co-chair of the EC and CSOM ’14, Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese encouraged the EC to extend the deadline for candidates to apply in order to avoid an uncontested election.
“This re-opening of the application is in part due to the urging of the currently committed candidates and a decision made by both the EC and Student Programming Office [SPO],” Fagut said in an emailed statement. “The EC, SPO, and the current candidates feel as if it would be a disservice to the student body to have an election go uncontested without further reaching out to the BC community, so we urge any interested undergraduates to apply.”
Joe Citera, graduate assistant for the EC and LGSOE ’17, confirmed in an email Tuesday that more candidates have signed up to run and said an uncontested election is unlikely at this point. The EC will not release the names of the new candidates until after the deadline to enter the race passes on Sunday.
Marchese deferred comment until after the additional teams have been officially announced.
The email from the EC stated that many potential candidates were hesitant to run due to the recent structuring changes within UGBC and also the changes in the campaign timeline. In recent years, the election season has run from late March through the beginning of April.
Fagut emphasized that the application process and intent meetings were conducted in the same manner as past years, yet a simple lack of interest during first semester produced an underwhelming response to the initial application.
The recent split between the advocacy and programming facets of UGBC is likely cause for some diminished interest, according to Matt Alonsozana, executive vice president of UGBC and A&S ’14.
“People who would have run primarily on programming platforms are now out of the pool,” Alonsozana said. “That’s part of what has made it difficult to recruit programmers to try to run.”
Michael Keefe, UGBC chief of staff and parliamentarian and A&S ’16, said the decision to move the campaigning up by nearly two months was made jointly by numerous players who were mostly concerned with the length of the election season in the past and the toll it takes on candidates. Electing the president and executive vice president earlier in the spring semester also allows more time to transition to next year’s administration. The change, however, potentially prevented candidates from entering the race in the earlier timeframe.
“There were a lot of changes to the elections code this year, and if you weren’t plugged into the happenings of the Elections Committee for the duration of the year, you would have no way of knowing about these changes,” Keefe said.
UGBC and the Student Assembly (SA) in particular are making efforts in the coming days to advertise the elections, with the hope of attracting more candidates. Alonsozana specified that the SA especially would especially take advantage of the spring student involvement fair tonight.
“It’s our responsibility to let as many people as possible know about these elections,” Keefe said. “I don’t think this campus is apathetic, I think it does take responsibility and ownership and wants to change things. We need to give people the opportunity to do that by publicizing these elections to everyone.
“We’ve offered the full resources of UGBC’s outreach capabilities to the Elections Committee if they wish to utilize that to help get the message about the elections out,” Keefe said.
Alonsozana said that potential candidates may be intimidated by the team of Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese since they are established members of the SA and have been strategizing and planning for some time. Their experience, though, may work to their benefit or detriment, Alonsozana said.
“[There are already] formed opinions for them or against them that are really hard to shake at this point,” Alonsozana said. “New breath breathed into an election by a team from the outside can really make this a competitive election despite appearances. The team that wins is the team that messages the fundamentals the best.”
Fagut stated that the EC did not comment on the election situation until Tuesday out of consideration for the currently registered candidates’ interest.
“We have been unable to comment on it because we needed to honor the privacy of potential candidates, as well as the regulations set by administration and are therefore over our head,” Fagut said in the email.
Citera said that SPO made the decision to refrain from commenting earlier.
“The Student Programs Office didn’t want any information to go out to protect the potential candidates involved,” Citera said. “It would have put immense pressure on the students who decided not to run if their names were released. We did not want them to get bombarded with questions pertaining to their candidacy after they have decided not to run.”
Departing from the EC campaigning code that states attendance at all pre-campaign meetings is mandatory in order to run, the email said that interested candidates did not have to attend the informational meeting that was held in December. To submit their candidacy, students must collect 250 signatures and be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the University.