This summer, the Student Association implemented a change of policy to eliminate many of the obstacles that limited the number of students who ran for class officer.
Even though each student is automatically an SA member through an $85 mandatory student activity fee, a very small percentage of students participate as class officers because of the bothersome process to become a candidate.
Now, instead of gathering signatures for a petition to have one's name placed on the ballot, those running for office only have to file an Intent to Run form with the Undergraduate Student Association Elections Committee.
According to Student Association President Brendan Quinn, a senior, in past elections signatures on a petition were valid only if the voter was of the same class as the candidate. This system caused a great deal of trouble because of the differences of opinion regarding class standing, typically in terms of credits earned versus one's expected graduation year.
"Many, many class officer petitions wound up being invalidated because of all of the signatures from students outside of the candidate's class," Quinn said. "I believe in the last election, we had two classes that did not elect any officers because of the difficulty of fielding candidates."
Senior Jason Dorofy experienced the roadblocks of the previous system firsthand. When he attempted to run as a class officer for his junior class, he was prevented from doing so because of his credit-standing as a senior.
"I felt that it was hindering those who wanted to be active from doing so because they are taking charge of their own education," he said. "I'm glad they've changed the rules about elections because now it will allow other students who are ahead to help make a difference in our college community."
In fact, this process became so cumbersome that many candidates chose to simply bypass the petition process and run for office through a write-in campaign.
"Over the past couple of years, many students haven't taken the time to fill out the petition and gather the signatures just because it was so much easier to be a write-in," said Kate Rebban, director of Student Association programs, personnel and finances. "They were just looking to avoid the hassle of the previous system."
Voters have run into the same problems, however when it came time to vote for a specific candidate. According to Quinn, "Most of the trouble comes from the fact that a student considering him/herself as a sophomore might actually have junior standing with the college. On Knightweb, when someone goes to vote for their class representatives, they may find themselves voting for a class year too high."
To resolve this detail, students who wish to vote within their cohort class must submit a request to the USAEC at least two weeks before voting begins.
The new system will take its first test run this October. Based on its performance, SA may fine-tune the process in time for the March elections.
"I think this new system will be great because the signatures seem to be a major factor in students either being disqualified from the election or not even bothering to participate," said junior Bob Schwitter, the USAEC chairman. "Hopefully, now there will be more people that are interested in running. My class, the junior class, does not even have anyone currently established for any position, so hopefully this will attract the leaders in my graduating class a little more."
Candidates running to be class officers need a 2.5 GPA as well as a Intent to Run Form on file with the USAEC. Most importantly, candidates must specify whether they want to be identified by the number of credits they hold or by their cohort class.
Students interested in running for class officers should contact SA, located in the College Union Room 316. For the upcoming elections, the vice president and treasurer positions as well as all freshmen positions are open. In addition, officers are needed for the classes of 2008 and 2009.