Chase Portaro (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For the second time in three years, all three positions in the Class of 2024 Council went uncontested, with Danny Leach running for President, Brenna Snively for Treasurer, and Emily Benning for Secretary. The three students are mainstays of the Junior Class Council, but as a voter, I wanted to understand why no one else was running and what that could mean for the Junior Class. Was this a product of class consensus, or a product of class apathy? I sat down with Danny, Brenna, and Emily separately to find out more.
First, I wanted to know why the candidates believed they ran unopposed. Brenna said, “With COVID during the time of our senior year, there were so many political events going on like the election and the George Floyd protests, so I think a lot of people in our grade have this mentality that they need to be out there doing bigger things.”
Emily said, “I think people just supported what we were doing already, or they just don’t care about student government.”
Danny told me, “The activities fair is more geared towards freshmen, and we never had that experience. We never got to see what’s around campus and what can we do, so we almost lived two freshman years it feels like.”
All of them are correct. The Class of 2024 faced a unique set of challenges that put student government on most peoples’ backburner. But later in my conversation with Emily, she touched on what I think is the real issue responsible for low candidate turnout. “I don’t know that people know what student government is trying to do for them.”
If students remain unaware of how their class council can better their college experience, this recent pattern of uncontested elections will continue – and competition in election cycles, regardless of the strength of our officers, is beneficial to the system. How can voters be guaranteed the same degree of motivation from their politicians in an uncontested election cycle?
Brenna responded, “I think the voters can have peace of mind that all three of us work for them because this is our third year, and it is a time commitment, so we wouldn’t just run for the title or the resume cushioning.”
Despite that promise, the ‘24 council knows more is required to reassure voters of their commitment to advocate. Emily explained, “We talked about recently just having small events for those who’re questioning who we are, what we do, and how we’re supporting people– and why we ran unopposed.”
Danny, Brenna, and Emily have contributed more than their fair share in improving our class through their time as councilmembers. As student-voters, I think we should start pulling our weight. At the very least, we can evaluate our understanding of UCSG. What do we know? What do we want to know that we don’t? If any of those questions spark your interest, you can give Danny, Brenna, and Emily a run for their money in the next election.
Who knows, you might even become the next Class President?