In nearly a week, freshman elections will take place and the first year class will elect their senators and class president. With a large number of candidates showing strong interest in the five open positions, the race this year will prove to be incredibly interesting. However, Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15 believes that the freshmen “don’t really know the scope of what Student Government can do yet” and hopes that with this surge in interest, more of the class will understand the importance of the organization and one of the last student-run unions in the country. Keraga and President of the Union Erin Amarello ’15 have both focused on an open approach this year and freshman elections this year are showing that their efforts have begun to work. The number of freshmen running for Student Senate is nearing a record and committees in Student Government are seeing a huge jump in student participation from both members and non-members.
However, this year’s election has already led to some violations by candidates. Despite information sessions for the candidates, where physical copies of the election rules were handed out, some of the freshmen have been found to be in violation of several rules. According to Rules and Elections chairman Melanie Todis ’17, class presidential candidate Kenneth Vetter ’18 and Senatorial candidate Justin Etzine ’18 were handed two violations each at a recent meeting for failures to be in accordance with election poster rules. Each violation carried a penalty of half an hour of community service to be served by poll-sitting. Vetter had two 11×17” posters on a message board by the Jonsson Engineering Center when only one 8.5×11” poster per message board is allowed. Vetter also received a violation for overlapping tape from his posters onto another, however, he appealed the decision and had his total service time reduced to only 1.5 hours of poll-sitting. When asked about the violations, Vetter expressed his appreciation that the rules were critically enforced and emphasized that “the rules are there for a reason and they’re there to make the races as fair as possible.” Etzine was also given poster-related violations such as tape overlap and improper locale of a poster, but chose not to appeal the community service and felt worried that many would see the covering of another’s poster as disrespectful. “I would never do something so blatantly disrespectful to one of my competitors,” said Etzine. Even Keraga has taken these violations in stride and remarked that they “enforce the spirit of fair play” in the elections and are there so that everyone is on the same level.
With 13 freshmen officially interested in running for Senate and three candidates for class president, freshman elections are a promising sign of involvement. In addition to Etzine, other senators running are Molly Dugan ’18, Xuan Liu ’18, Connor Hadley ’18, Tianyi Qiao ’18, Harlan Grossman ’18, Jennifer Freedberg ’18, Steven Sperazza ’18, Patrick Aselin ’18, Yike Wang ’18, Michael Hoherchak ’18, Ja-Lamar Lyons ’18, and Keegan Caraway ’18. The people running for Class of 2018 president include Wang, Brenna Buckley ’18, Mathew Heimlich ’18, Grossman, and Aselim. Some of this year’s candidates are looking to make a difference in some of the specific parts of the school, such as making the counseling center more accessible and encouraging mental health, as well as increasing the accessibility of students to specialists in medical fields such as physical therapists and psychologists. Others are looking to make an impact by being dedicated and putting in maximum effort.
This year’s elections promise to be interesting, with the large number of candidates gearing for each position. With nominations not due until 3 pm on September 20, even more candidates are encouraged to sign up and run in the election. The primaries for the elections will take place on Monday, September 22 and the final elections on Thursday, September 25; both in Commons from 9 am–7 pm and in the Darrin Communications Center from 9 am–5 pm.