College Council elections for 1998-99 are not only focusing on issues vital to the campus but are also bringing about changes in the electoral process itself. The possibility of an uncontested election for the seat of the co-presidency aroused much attention from the student body and initiated much debate.
In protest to the idea of an uncontested presidential election, Michael Hickey ’00 and Matthew Drukker ’99 decided to run a write-in candidacy and also made a proposal to the CC in hopes of preventing future uncontested elections.
“A single candidate election does not facilitate at-large student awareness of issues, debate about possible solutions, nor the expression of student opinion through the casting of a vote that reflects a conscious decision,” Drukker said on his and Hickey’s behalf at a CC meeting on March 4.
Drukker and Hickey proposed “if it is the case that upon the nomination deadline, the candidacy for co-president or president/vice-president of College Council is uncontested, the college community is to be informed, and subsequently the nomination deadline will be extended.”
According to current CC Co-President Amanda Cowley ’98, CC member Medha Kirtane ’00 also suggested requiring campus notification of an uncontested seat some specified amount of time before the nomination deadline.
“There are many options being discussed, under the belief that an uncontested election does not foster campus discussion, nor does it convince the administration of a student mandate,” Cowley said.
CC members have been debating the topic over the CC list server.
“I was very disappointed that so many of the positions were being filled uncontested,” CC Representative Samuel Young ’98 said. “An uncontested race is a disservice to the students who are supposed to be represented, because the council’s identity as the voice of the student body is put into question.”
According to Drukker and Hickey, general resistance to their proposed amendment was on the grounds that a presidential candidate who fails to meet the deadline for the nomination process is not organized or responsible enough to be president.
Uncontested election seats are not unique to the current CC election and were not unexpected.
“As an experienced ‘uncontested’ boy, I am not overly surprised the presidential seat and several other high profile seats were uncontested,” CC Secretary Christopher Bell ’98 said. “It is not solely a matter of more communication about elections, it also stems from a tremendous time commitment required in becoming a year-long member of CC.” Bell said he talked with 10 people about running for CC and nine backed down. “You do what you did in high school or feel motivated to do in college. And if it happens to be hanging around the CC office and mingling with the administration on a regular basis, then CC is your thing,” he added.
Bell also cited the issue of fear of competition as a deterrent to running for CC. “A lot of people try to find out if anyone is running, and if no one is, will run,” he said. “If someone is running, and often it could be just about anyone, people would prefer not to lose in a publicly held race.”
Drukker and Hickey said they hope their efforts “will spark student interest in the present election.”
Young said, “In my opinion, we should do anything we can to encourage student interest in the business of running the school.” He added, “Without evidence for student support for its actions, the council has less influence with the administration.”
The issue of uncontested elections is on the agenda for the next CC meeting March 11, according to Co-President Mac Harman ’98.
“I greatly admire Mike [Hickey] and Matt [Drukker] coming before Council to raise an appropriate issue which is to keep the student body informed about the occupancy of the seats. It can only add to the increased participation and perhaps draw more to fill uncontested/empty seats prior to the initial deadline,” Bell said. “The two guys put a lot into their rather eloquent presentation and as a result Council will likely pass something to this effect on Wednesday.”