Student government elections run flawlessly
Carnegie Mellon students successfully elected their new Student Government Tuesday. The Elections Board revealed the new executive branch will be made up of student body president (SBP) Jared Itkowitz, a junior business administration and chinese studies major; student body vice president (SBVP) Pooja Godbole, a sophomore business administration major; and vice president of finance (SBVPF) Evan Osheroff, a junior business administration major. After the elections debacle of last year, where it took several failed attempts to elect current SBP and SBVP Sean Weinstock and Adi Jain, this year’s election went off without a hitch.
Itkowitz received 1136 votes from the student body, roughly 68 percent of the total electorate. His competitor, junior policy and management major Dorian Adeyemi, received 489 votes. Osheroff received 925 votes, about 62 percent of the total number of votes for his position. His opponent, sophomore business administration major Sagar Mehta, received 540 votes, according to (stugov.andrew.cmu.edu/elections/results).
“The elections caught me on edge,” Osheroff said. “I thought it would be closer with [Mehta] so I was genuinely surprised with the results.”
A total of 1779 students voted in the election. Of these, 504 were students from the Carnegie Institute of Technology; 324 from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; 210 from the Mellon College of Science; 143 from the School of Computer Science; 137 from the College of Fine Arts; 116 from the Bachelor of Humanities and Arts, Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA), and Science and Humanities Scholars (SHS) programs; and 175 graduate students.
“I would say the turnout was on par,” Osheroff said. “It was not great and it could have been better.”
The greatest number of student votes ever cast in one election is 2537, in 2004, according to Student Senate minutes.
The relative ease of the election process was due in part to a new server purchased by the Office of Student Activities and Student Senate last summer to replace the server purchased five years ago from a project at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), according to Meg Richards, a senior in computer science and chief technical officer (CTO) of the Elections Board. In addition, the new server is administered by a staff member in Enrollment Services to heighten security.
“Now we can focus on code and not security and maintenance of the machine,” Richards said.
However, although there is staff involvement at the security level, the system is still operated primarily by students.
“It’s going to be [operated by] students and it should be students,” Richards said.
In addition, this year’s system included a host of updated features. For example, candidates this year were able to submit their platforms online, whereas before they submitted paper platforms that were later retyped by the CTO.
Additionally, Richards configured the system to match each name that voters put in as a write-in candidate to an Andrew ID to ensure that the potential candidate was actually a current student; last year, without this modification, multiple students were able to vote for Optimus Prime (a Transformer) via write-in, Richards explained. At the end of the voting process, the system tallied, stored, and computed the votes and put them in a results table, after which Richards added all votes for write-ins.
Despite the ease of the process, however, candidates were glad to be done.
“The election is a draining process,” Itkowitz said.
“We’re just relieved we don’t have to do it again,” Godbole added.
Richards believes that the new system is a model that will work in the long term. To ensure longevity, she included an admin page with explicit instructions, so all configurations could be handled from the webfront (website) end by her successor.
But Richards is still planning to improve the system for next year’s elections. She’d like to expand the suite of administrative utilities, increase performance, and create error messages that correspond to the particular problematic field, instead of a general message.
However, she was pleased with the way elections went this year.
“We were out by 9:45 [p.m.], not 4 a.m.,” she said. “We had a much better time.”
In addition to Richards, the Elections Board consists of co-chairs Sudeep Paul, a senior business administration and economics major, and Ruth Poproski, a Ph.D. student in philosophy; Neha Thatte, a senior design major; Tarun Bhan, a junior economics and social and decision sciences major; and Vivan Shah, a senior electrical and computer engineering major.
Only days into the process, the candidates were ready to get started.
“We’re just excited to get out there and meet new people,” Godbole said.
“And now we have an excuse,” Itkowitz added.
All three candidates each have their own visions; for Itkowitz and Godbole, they hope to initiate their seven CMUnity issues including a 24/7 campus, better student safety, and expanding the influence of student government into Pittsburgh and graduate student affairs. Osheroff hopes to reform the Joint Funding Committee through a new website, audits of all funded organizations, and a revised timeline of assigning representatives.
They all share the vision of increasing transparency, collaborating between student groups, and integrating one-on-one communication with the student body.
To view the complete elections results, visit (stugov.andrew.cmu.edu/elections/results).