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The Blue & Gray Press | February 25, 2018

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‘Conflicting Results’ Mar Class Council Election

BY KRISTEN KELLEHER

Students campaigning for Mary Washington Honor Council, Judicial Review Board and Class Council ran from the UMW bell tower to Lee Hall last week, carrying spray-painted bed sheets to promote themselves for the 2010-2011 elections on March 24.

Elections were held via e-mail on Wednesday, March 24, and results were announced at Woodard Campus Center Thursday, March 25. Election aftermath revealed conflicting results in the election for Class Council 2011 positions, and it was announced Thursday that the presidential winner for the class of 2011 would not be disclosed that night.

The position of vice president for the class of 2011 also remained unsettled, with a tie between Sara Lowdon and McKenna Lehman, as did the position for the 2011 promotions director between Samantha Crouse and Katey Kerns.

“In order to be elected to Class Council, our constitution states that you must win at least 50 percent of the vote,” Kelly Caldwell, secretary for the Class Council class of 2010, said. “For the 2011 vice president position there were three candidates. Since no one won 50 percent of the vote, there will be a run-off election between Sarah Lowdon and McKenna Lehman…In the case of the 2011 Promotions Director we actually had a tie this year.”

Some of the conflicts have since been resolved. Austin Bartenstein won the presidential race for the Class Council class of 2011, after his opponent was declared ineligible due to a stipulation of the Student Government Association constitution.

A run-off election for the positions of vice president and promotions director for the class of 2011 was held yesterday, with final results being released tonight in the Red Room at 10 p.m.

“I am just excited to continue serving the UMW community through the different events that class council has run,” Nick DeSarno, vice president elect for the class of 2011, said. “Class Council is unique in the fact that it keeps tradition here at UMW alive…We have an amazing group of students that work together while having many other commitments, we are able to provide UMW with fun and exciting events throughout the year.”

Five positions per class are elected annually to the Honor Council and the Judicial Review Board, but this year’s election left vacant spots for some classes, including the Judicial Review Board class of 2013, 2012 and the Honor Council class of 2011.  Both Honor Council and Judicial Review Board said they were uncertain of when follow-up elections would take place.

Though these election positions were uncontested, many candidates had to compete against their classmates.

Gaining recognition for a student’s campaign can be challenging because of a statistically low voter turnout for elections and restrictions placed on student campaign efforts by the UMW SGA constitution.

The constitution limits students to 45 pieces of total campaign material, banners that can only be displayed in front of Lee Hall and prevents the use of Facebook groups to help promote students for election. Many students prefer to campaign through word of mouth, and feel that students are likely to vote only for friends or not at all.

“Only 20 to 25 percent of students vote [in the elections],” Judicial Review Board President Brian DeMott said. “Usually the ones voting are the ones that are well informed, or have friends who are running. I think more people would tend to vote if they knew what the governing bodies do.”

Some students said that the low voter turnout is a response to feeling uninformed about candidates and the organizations for which they are running.

Sophomore Nani Moskow said that she would probably not vote in the elections.

“I don’t know much about the candidates,” Moskow said. “It’s safer not to vote at all than to vote for someone I don’t know.”

Freshman Kerry Busby agreed that many students are unsure of how the elections will impact them.

“Some people don’t know specifically how it affects them,” she said. “Class Council should try to get more of the student body involved with their campaigning. They should stress what Class Council has done.”

The Class Council, responsible for planning traditional campus events such as Devil-Goat Day, Junior Ring Week and Grad Ball, elects four students per class for the positions of president, vice president, secretary/treasurer and promotions director.

The Honor Council handles student breaches of the honor code.  The Judicial Review Board holds student hearings for violations of quiet hours, fire incidents, noise violations and holds annual campus events like Drench the Bench.

“As students they have a right to pick the representatives of their class,” said Jennifer Crystle, president of the Class Council class of 2013. “It’s a way to put their two cents in and to get the changes they want.  I’m always wiling to listen to people’s ideas, but if they don’t vote, we don’t know.”