Few things about this semester can be classified as normal. However, one semblance of regularity is that the Associated Students of the University of Portland (ASUP) are holding fall elections for vice president and freshman class senators. Pandemic or not, in person or online, the election will go on.
Elections opened on Engage for vice president and freshman class senator Sept. 30 and will be open until Friday, Oct 2.
Former ASUP Vice President Kila Ung, who was elected last April in the general election, resigned in early August after she decided to not return to the University of Portland for the fall 2020 semester, leaving the position vacant.
This will be the most competitive election in years, with eight candidates running for vice president and ten running for two freshman class senator positions. To put this in perspective, nineteen candidates ran for twenty open positions last spring. This year, eighteen candidates are running for three open positions.
One potential reason for the increase in candidates is that there is a sentiment of disappointment in the university, which has driven students to become more socially active and get more involved on campus.
Based on previous years, ASUP president Sage Taylor was hoping for at least two candidates to run for vice president.
“If we can even get two candidates, that's a massive increase from the past few years where, for president and vice president, you have had an uncontested election,” Taylor said.
Taylor contributes the increase in participation to ASUP reaching out to various clubs and organizations on campus, advertising the position, as well as the contemporary political and cultural landscape.
For the vice presidential election to be valid, 10% of the student body must vote. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote the top two candidates will have a runoff election.
For the freshman class senator election to be valid, 10% of the freshman class must vote. The two candidates with the most votes will be declared winners.
In a typical year, candidates can campaign through tabling in St. Mary’s or in the Pilot House, distributing flyers, canvassing, etc. This year, campaigning will be done entirely through Instagram and word of mouth, even for students living on campus.
In addition to candidates’ campaigning on their personal social media accounts, ASUP will post a photo and information on each candidate on the ASUP Instagram account with the photo and brief description of why they are running.
Junior class Senator and ASUP Elections Committee member, Connor Heffernan, said that using the ASUP Instagram page to promote each candidate individually was an attempt to level the playing field.
“We totally understand that some candidates have a lot more followers than others and are a lot more used to social media presence than others,” Heffernan said. “... We're working to make it as fair as possible, so it's not just a popularity contest.”
The winner of the election will most likely be announced on Instagram live Friday night on ASUP’s Instagram account. There the winners, or runoff candidates, will be allowed to give a short stump speech.
In the case of a run-off election, ASUP is planning on hosting a Zoom-debate for the two finalists. Students will be able to submit questions in advance and an ASUP moderator will ask the candidates. The debate will be posted on YouTube afterwards.
Heffernan encourages everyone to vote because he believes it is the best avenue for students to make their voices heard.
“We get a shared responsibility over the decisions that are being made, and the ideas that are at the table,” Heffernan said. “When we don't vote a narrower and narrower group gets to have a say over things that are affecting you and those that you love.”
Below is a list of candidates:
Tate Harris, vice president
Grace Batra, vice president
Claire Deamer, vice president
Victoria Bajanov, vice president
Andrew Douille, vice president
Ben Kaplan, vice president
Raphaelle LeBlanc, vice president
Karen Kim, vice president
Liam Mather, Freshman Class Senator
Isabelle Persichetti, Freshman Class Senator
Bennu Bui, Freshman Class Senator
Maja Elliott, Freshman Class Senator
Nevaeh Bray, Freshman Class Senator
Jamieson Miller, Freshman Class Senator
Austin Boyle, Freshman Class Senator
Miguel Navarro, Freshman Class Senator
Erin McKibbin, Freshman Class Senator
Kayla Durand, Freshman Class Senator
William Seekamp is the Sports Editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.