After what initially could have been an uncontested election, the Elections Committee (EC) officially commenced the campaign for UGBC president and executive vice president in an invigorated kick-off event in the Cabaret Room on Sunday night.
This year’s campaign season will last from today until next Wednesday. With only 10 days to hone their messages, the candidates rallied their supporters and gave a broad overview of their platforms last night.
Attendees supporting Lucas Levine and Vance Vergara, both A&S ’15, donned blue t-shirts, while those supporting Nanci Fiore-Chettiar and Chris Marchese, both A&S ’15, wore red t-shirts. Michael Moazampour and Robert Watt, both A&S ’16-the only sophomore team in the race-had green t-shirts to pass out, but few of their supporters turned out to the event.
This year, all t-shirt orders were placed through the EC and the cost was deducted from the teams’ $300 spending limit.
Rachel Fagut and Ross Fishman, both co-chairs and CSOM ’14, hosted the event and introduced the candidates to an audience of about 200 students.
Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese, who currently serve as UGBC senators, were first to introduce themselves and their general platform.
“We believe that UGBC needs to be an advocate that actually delivers on the promise the candidate makes,” Marchese said. “So, we’ve been disappointed with the organization this year. We’ve been disappointed in UGBC for awhile.”
Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese introduced an ambitious platform that focuses on three main areas: advocacy, “communiversity,” and tangibility. Along those lines, they introduced a number of ideas on which they hope to deliver-such as flexibility with the academic core, addressing mental health problems, and updating the UGBC website.
“The bottom line is that UGBC can be better,” Fiore-Chettiar said.
Fagut and Fishman next introduced Moazampour and Watt, the youngest team in the race. If elected, Moazampour would be the first sophomore president since Setti Warren, now the mayor of Newton and A&S ’93, was elected in 1991.
“We’re not in this race because it’s easy, we are in this race because it’s tough, it’s a challenge,” Moazampour said.
Moazampour said that he and his running mate would introduce a series of “dramatic reforms,” including installing water filters in every dorm and pushing for fruit and nut trees to be planted around campus. They also would advocate for instituting double major advising. Currently, students who double major are only assigned a faculty advisor from the department of their first major.
“We feel that there is a disconnect between UGBC and the students as a whole,” Watt said. “We seek to bridge that gap. Our impact will extend far beyond simply a Facebook page or emails. Instead, it will feature a personal touch.”
If elected, Moazampour and Watt say they would host weekly updates around campus wherein students could voice their concerns and learn about UGBC initiatives.
Levine and Vergara were introduced last.
Their platform focuses mostly on areas of advocacy. They pledged to work with organizations such as To Write Love on Her Arms, the BC chapter of a national organization that aims to give hope to those struggling with addiction, depression, and self-injury.
They also said they would plan a mental-health awareness week modeled after the Women’s Resource Center’s (WRC) Love Your Body Week.
“We’re going to work tirelessly with the administration to overcome any hurdles to fostering an inclusive community worthy of the Jesuit name,” Levine said. “We’re going to expand the BC Ignites series to include discussion of diversity issues.”
Levine also said his administration would work with the WRC to implement a solution to body image issues among women, and that they would encourage greater female involvement in the student government.
Another component of their platform aims to address the everyday needs of students, such as instituting a 24-hour print station on campus.
All three teams acknowledged the growing divide between UGBC and the student body-and, in some way, each team committed to greater transparency, accountability, and responsiveness to student concerns.
At the conclusion of the event, the EC conducted an informal straw poll to gauge the attendees’ support. Levine and Vergara received 100 votes, Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese came in second with 75 votes, and the Moazampour and Watt ticket received no votes.
In an informal setting like the kick-off event, the straw poll results are not necessarily an indication of the final election results. It does show, however, that the Levine-Vergara and Fiore-Chettiar-Marchese tickets were able to turn out strong support at the first official campaign event.
Because only three teams are running, the EC will not hold a primary election, as it has in past years. Online voting will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 18, and close on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m.
According to the EC election code, which was adopted in November to reflect changes in the length of the campaign and the disciplinary infraction system, BC organizations cannot endorse candidates. Individuals associated with an organization, however, are not barred from endorsing candidates, so long as he or she does so independent of the organization.
Campaigning on campus will be permitted up until voting closes next Wednesday night. Residence Hall campaigning will be restricted to times set by the EC.