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News, University News

UCS, UFB kick off 2021 spring election season

Election procedures changed to fit new online environment

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, March 1, 2021

Facing logistical challenges with the pandemic, UCS and UFB turn towards virtual campaigning for spring elections.

The Undergraduate Council of Students kicked off the first completely virtual UCS and Undergraduate Finance Board spring election process with an email to the student body last Tuesday. 

This year, students interested in running for UCS and UFB positions are required to watch a nine-minute video released by the Council’s Elections Board in the email in place of the in-person information sessions of years past. 

The Elections Board has made several structural changes to the election process to account for restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In previous years, prospective candidates had to gather a specific number of signatures from the student body in order to run for office. This election, the requirement has been waived. 

“We’ve changed a lot to accommodate an online campaigning format this year, so (collecting signatures) is not a requirement,” said Elections Board Co-Chair Ophelia Duchesne-Malone ’22 at a Q&A session last Thursday. 

Prospective candidates will have to send a personal statement about topics such as their personal goals and qualifications, as well as a written reflection on their engagement with the student body, to the Elections Board by noon March 5. 

Both the personal statement, which should include a photograph of the candidate, and the reflection will be uploaded to the UCS website for voters to view. 

Although there is no longer a requirement to gather signatures, the goal of which was to prompt conversations between students and prospective candidates, Duchesne-Malone still encouraged prospective candidates to “talk to people in the student body to see what they’re thinking and what they would like to see happen.” 

There have also been changes to the campaigning process, which will be held “exclusively online,” according to the Council’s Spring 2021 Elections Handbook.

At the beginning of the campaigning period, approved candidates will be given 100 publicity points by the Council, which they can spend throughout the campaigning process. 

Different online campaigning actions are associated with a certain amount of points. For example, creating an Instagram account for the sole purpose of campaigning will “cost” ten points, while posting a graphic on social media “costs” 1 point, according to the handbook. 

The scope of online campaigning will be limited to the specific activities listed in the handbook, including making a website and posting promotional materials on social media. Actions such as purchasing online advertisements and sending mass emails are not allowed, according to the handbook. 

Duchesne-Malone recommended that candidates planning their online campaigns consider “holding Zoom calls with people who were interested in voting for them or Q&A sessions about the different initiatives they might want to undertake.” She highlighted the success that First-Year Representative candidates had while using similar tactics in their campaign efforts last semester. 

“We’re sad that (the election) can’t be an in-person thing, but we just want everyone to be safe,” Duchesne-Malone said. Additionally, “in case someone’s not in Providence, this just makes it a little bit more fair to them.”

Apart from online campaigning, the spring election process will also include a virtual debate between candidates for the UCS president, UCS vice president, UFB chair and UFB vice chair positions. 

A link to the debate, which will take place on March 13, will be emailed to the student body prior to the event. Online voting will take place between March 19 to 24, with the winning candidates taking office after the conclusion of the spring semester. 

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