University News

UCS elections offer fierce competition

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This year’s Undergraduate Council of Students and Undergraduate Finance Board elections are the most competitive in years, with more candidates contesting for more spots than in other recent elections.

Five of 10 UCS and UFB leadership positions are contested this year, while a year ago only the races for UCS president, UCS vice president and UFB chair were contested. There are four candidates running for UCS president and three for vice president, up from just two each in 2008.

The combined seven candidates competing for UCS’ top two positions are the most since at least 2005.

Twelve students are running for six at-large seats on UFB. Those positions were uncontested last year, as only five students ran. Two candidates are running for UFB chair, unchanged from last year, and the position of UFB vice chair will be contested for the first time since 2007.  

“Usually — for UCS especially — a lot of the races have been uncontested,” said Elections Board Chair Lily Tran ’10, also the current UFB chair.

This year, races for the chairs of the UCS Campus Life, Admissions and Student Services and Student Activities committees are uncontested. There are no candidates for UCS treasurer or for head delegate to the Ivy Council. Previously, Brown’s head delegate to the Ivy Council has been internally elected by UCS.

Tran said she hopes the increased competition of this year’s races and a greater number of active endorsements announced by student groups will translate into higher voter participation. Just 1,346 ballots were cast in last year’s election, representing about a quarter of the undergraduate student body.

The elections board has tried to facilitate greater student interest by introducing a debate for UFB candidates, held at last week’s Brown University Activities Council meeting, and moving the UCS presidential debate to Wriston Quadrangle, Tran said.

Almost every candidate for UCS president and vice president has named Brown’s financial situation or financial aid as his or her primary focus for the coming year.

The elections board enforces a complex set of rules governing every aspect of campaigning. Candidates are allotted a certain number of points and a spending limit of $45 for their campaigns. Table slips, events and even Facebook groups cost a certain number of points.

Violations of campaign rules also cost candidates points.

During this year’s campaign, a member of the elections board was made an administrator of the campaign Facebook group of UCS Communications Chair Clay Wertheimer ’10, a candidate for UCS president.

The rules violation cost Wertheimer 15 of the 100 points allotted to UCS presidential candidates, though, according to Tran, the elections board member “accidently joined the Facebook group and was made an administrator by someone other than Clay.”

Tran said the system ensures that each candidate has access to equal resources, preventing any unfair advantage.

But some candidates have found creative ways around the restrictive guidelines.
Supporters of UCS Student Activities Chair Ryan Lester ’11 and Wertheimer, for example, have put up campaign-themed profile pictures on their Facebook accounts.

Campaigning ends and voting begins today at noon. Students can vote online on MyCourses until noon Thursday. Results will be announced Thursday at midnight on the steps in front of Faunce House.

The candidates for UCS president are Paris Hays ’10, UCS Vice President Mike MacCombie ’11, Lester and Wertheimer. UCS vice-presidential candidates are UCS member Evan Holownia ’11, UCS Treasurer Harris Li ’11 and UCS member Diane Mokoro ’11.

Candidates for UFB Chair are current UFB members Salsabil Ahmed ’11 and Jose Vasconez ’10. Vice-chair candidates are Neil Parikh ’11 and Juan Vasconez ’10.