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Student Government column

Congratulations to our new executive board! Neal Choudary and Pulkita Dua will serve as Carnegie Mellon’s Student Body President and Vice President, respectively, for the 2017–2018 school year (if you’d like to learn more about what’s possible in these positions, check any past Student Government columns). Gaby Cach Lool is our new Vice President of Finance, responsible for allocating $1.5 million dollars in organization funding, and Hannah Nourie is Vice President of Student Organizations, in charge of the managing over 350 student organizations and recognizing new student organizations on campus. Best of luck, I’m sure it’s going to be a great year!

The Undergraduate Student Senate, as has been explained to me by Ryan LaPré, has chosen not to ratify the Senate elections results and will be holding a re-election. This is due to their belief that the “No Confidence” option was insufficiently explained to voters on the ballot. This means that we will be hosting another online election, beginning next Friday, April 14 at 10 a.m., and ending the following Tuesday, April 18 at 10 a.m., with all the same candidates who were on the first ballot. Elections Board is currently working with Senate and the executive board on drafting new language to explain the “No Confidence” option on the ballot.

After counting up the votes for the Senate elections, there were still many vacant seats left. The effect of “No Confidence” being inefficiently explained might be the reason for this, since “No Confidence” got a higher vote count than some of the candidates, effectively eliminating those candidates. By the Student Senate Bylaws, a vote of no confidence is a vote against all candidates who are in the running for the relevant vacant seat. However, not all students use the No Confidence vote in this way, leading to confusion on the actual desires of the student body. Other possible reasons are a low actual confidence in candidates for Senate or low voter turnout (skewing the weight of no confidence votes).

It may seem silly to some that a re-election is happening. My belief is that fair elections are enabled when voters have a full understanding of their voting options and what they mean. Senate’s commitment to fair elections through fair language indicates their passion for proper and informed representation, which is the true intention of Student Government. If seats remain empty after the second voting session, vacancy elections can still be held to fill these seats.

My hope is that in this next election, any confusion with the voting options is alleviated by the new language explaining the “No Confidence” vote, and that we see a great voter turnout. Between now and Friday, April 14, reach out to a former Senator of your college and learn more about our Student Senate and their role in it! If you have any further questions on this new election, contacting the Elections Board is a great place to start!