SGA spring elections campaigns kick off

By Anthony Rentsch

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)
(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

With elections a few weeks away, the Student Government Association president/vice president and University of Massachusetts student trustee campaigns have kicked off.

Although not all of the candidates have submitted their candidate’s agreement form, the president/vice president tickets are as follows: Rocco Giordano/Dhananjay Mirlay Srinivas, Sïonan Barrett/Chantal Lima Barbosa and Charlotte Kelly/Sammi Gay.

In terms of undergraduates, Kabir Thatte, Gabriel Schmitt, Emily O’Neil and Nicholas Vigneau have all submitted nomination forms for the trustee position.

As a part of recent SGA election reforms, the trustee campaigns have been separated from the president/vice president ones. The campaign for the trustee position, which represents both undergraduate and graduate students, has undergone some changes according to Chairperson of the Diversity and Student Engagement Committee Emily O’Neil.

“This is the first year that (graduate students) feel like they want to run,” she said. Last spring, there were no graduate students who ran for the position.

However, graduate students do not have to submit their nomination forms for trustee until this Friday, whereas all undergraduate president/vice president and student trustee candidates met on Monday night to sign their candidate agreement forms.

The number of candidates has gone down slightly from last spring’s election, which featured five P/VP tickets.

The decrease in candidates is not the only low statistics surrounding the SGA elections. Both the spring and fall elections in 2014 brought up serious questions surrounding voter participation.

Elections Commissioner Divya Kirti, who has been a part of the three previous spring elections, has been working with Vice President Jacob Schissel on different ways to increase voter turnout. In the past, she said, the SGA has only tabled in the Campus Center during the day, which has been largely ineffective in getting students passing by to stop and vote.

This year, in addition to tabling, Kirti said the SGA will have polling stations at the dining commons equipped with iPads and laptops so people are able to vote on the spot.

O’Neil said the SGA may even add polling stations to dorm lobbies.

The SGA will be sponsoring debates for the president/vice president candidates on March 5 at 7:30, and for trustees on March 3 at 7:30. Locations for the debates are yet to be determined.

While Kirti has received several funding requests from candidates, she said that most of the campaigning so far has been going on social media. Kirti mentioned that a few candidates have already created Facebook pages and hashtags on Twitter.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Anthony_Rentsch.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the date of the student trustee debate. It has been corrected above.