Opinions, Editorials

Elections Committee Should Encourage More Candidates

As of Sunday night, Raymond Mancini, CSOM ’19, and Matthew Batsinelas, CSOM ’19, are the only pair running for Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) president and executive vice president for the 2017-18 academic year. This election cycle is not the first time a candidate has initially run unopposed, as the phenomenon has happened several times in recent years.

Last year, after the initial field of three candidates was reduced to one, the Elections Committee (EC), the independent body that runs UGBC elections, made the decision, as it did in 2014, to reopen the race to more candidates. This decision continued the precedent of ensuring that no election be carried out uncontested, which is important in making sure that the undergraduate student body of BC has adequate choice in its leadership.

In light of the current situation, it is paramount that the EC again decide to reopen registration for the 2017 presidential election. In each of the aforementioned scenarios, at least one other pair of students came forward to run after the EC made the announcement that new candidates could enter the race again. Though not guaranteed, it is likely that, if the EC chooses to extend the deadline to register to run, the race will become contested. It is possible that more than one team of students will come forward, creating an even more diverse election and giving the student body increased choice. The EC’s policies state that if only one team is registered it reserves the right to reopen the field, and Casey Doyle, co-chair of the EC and CSOM ’17, said in an email Sunday that they would likely hold another information meeting sometime this week for those interested in running.

The lack of initial interest in the positions of UGBC president and executive vice president represents an apathy for the organization among the student body. At a university of over 9,000 students, only two have currently signed up to serve in these significant and prestigious positions. In the last election, only 2,592 students voted, down from 3,411 from two years ago, and 4,332 three years ago. This trend of dipping student involvement in UGBC elections is a testament to the student body’s general detachment from the organization.

Should the EC decide to extend the registration period for this year’s election, it should work to more adequately advertise the deadline and requirements to run. The announcement of election season should be carried out with greater significance and publicity than simply another email from UGBC. Possible courses of action include the use of signage in upperclassmen living areas and more frequent and effective social media promotion.

BC students should recognize the importance of UGBC as well. The organization commands a budget of $328,000 and its intention is to make decisions that improve the lives of students every day. Previous UGBC officers have acknowledged the student body’s indifference toward the institution, and previous presidential candidates have focused on increasing outreach and student involvement in their platforms. This year, UGBC rearranged its communications department in an effort to streamline its event publicity and better inform students of programs and initiatives.

UGBC is responsible for the achievement of many goals important to many members of the student body. The organization was responsible for the installment of printers inside Corcoran Commons. Similarly, UGBC often calls on the University administration to communicate the wishes of the student body. The creation of an LGBTQ Resource Center on campus, a proposition that has strong student support, was voted on and supported by UGBC earlier this year. There are many other changes that students wish to see take place on campus, and UGBC is the established vehicle capable of enacting such developments.
UGBC acts as a voice for the student body. Thus, students should be more concerned with the proceedings of UGBC and its elections. Motivated students should seek to enter the race for president and executive vice president. All students should try to familiarize themselves with the platforms and records of the candidates in order to make the most informed decision possible. Participating in elections is not only a civic duty, but a responsibility of BC students as members of an institution that carries out democratic elections in the hope of establishing a student government that represents its constituents well.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

January 30, 2017