Campus Council will hold its first election under a new system of representation from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20. Instead of being chosen by student organization, Campus Council seats will be allocated by issues including international diversity, racial diversity, gender and sexuality diversity, service and civic engagement and selective organizations. In addition to each of these five issue seats, four at-large seats are also being contested in the upcoming election.
The issue seats system is replacing a previous system in which certain student organizations — including the Black Student Association, Inter-Greek Council, the Student Government Association and others — were guaranteed a seat on Campus Council.
Jordan McNickle ’14, currently the Student Government Association representative on Campus Council, explained that the change was meant to “make the representation less based on including particular organizations, and instead be open to any student who felt they could effectively represent an issue of importance on campus.”
Current members expect that the new representation system will encourage more passionate individuals to run for seats. At-Large Representative Stephanie Megas ’14 said that “those elected to seats [under the new system] will be on council through their own initiative, unlike the consequence of former system of ex officio members.”
“Under the new system, it seems less likely that someone will be sent to Campus Council by their parent organization simply because the organization has a seat and they want someone representing them to be in the room,” McNickle added.
The new system has increased the competitiveness of Campus Council’s elections. As of Monday, Feb. 10, the due date for “intent to run” forms, there were twice as many candidates as there were seats to fill. According to Megas, all but one seat will be contested in Tuesday’s election.
The new system does not seem to have discouraged members of the original parent organizations from running for seats. “There are a fair amount of candidates running from the existing/previous groups represented on campus,” said Megas. “However, there are several individuals who have shown interest and reached out to council members that do not represent the former organizations, but feel as if they represent an important niche on campus that would not be elected in an at-large popular vote.”
McNickle hopes that the change will have an effect on the dynamic of Campus Council. “We won’t necessarily be pulling from the same organizations every year for representatives, and individual students may have unique things to bring to the table for discussion that static organizations might not necessarily have on their mind,” he said. “I think we are also hoping that this change will affect the atmosphere of campus council by putting the organization under a more critical lens from the students.”
With more student representatives coming from the general campus population, McNickle expects that the student body will take notice and pay more attention to Campus Council issues than in the past.
The ballot for at-large candidates will be available online on Feb. 19. The issue-based candidates can only be voted for in-person after they have presented a short speech in the Lowry Pit on Feb. 18 or 20.