Boston University Student Government hosted an Election Kickoff Monday afternoon in the George Sherman Union Link as part of BU’s first Week of Spirit where students were provided the opportunity to meet candidates from competing slates TrueBU and BU’s Push to Start.
Student Election Commission Chairwoman Lauren LaVelle said the SEC is also making efforts to increase student engagement in the election process this year. Last year, 3,100 students voted in the SG Executive Board Elections.
“Student engagement can be increased, and it’s an important thing to do,” LaVelle said.
Students will be able to cast their votes for SG Executive Board from March 21 at noon to April 7 at noon. Voters may choose candidates from both slates, each of which comprises of four students running for the positions of president, executive vice president, vice president of internal affairs and vice president of finance.
Candidates on the slate TrueBU, respectively, are College of Fine Arts sophomore Alexander Golob, School of Education sophomore Sandra Soto, College of Arts and Sciences junior Cassandra Shavney and CAS junior Salma Yehia.
BU’s Push to Start candidates, respectively, are CAS sophomore Richa Kaul, CAS junior Joe Ferme, College of Communication junior Jamie Ellis and CAS freshman Joshua Mosby.
The most significant change in election rules for the Spring 2014 SG elections will adjust the procedure of issuing penalties to candidates for campaigning violations, said LaVelle. In the past, candidates who broke the SEC rules while campaigning incurred monetary fines of around $20.
“Anyone could, for very little money, buy themselves out of breaking the rules,” LaVelle, a School of Management senior, said.
The updated election code specifies that a candidate will lose a certain number of votes for larger infractions. The number of votes lost is dependent on how many students voted in the election, LaVelle said.
“Some people don’t agree with taking away votes. We found it was the best way to take the precedent in our code… and make it more concrete,” LaVelle said. “I’m going to admit it’s not perfect, but I think it will serve us well this year.”
The time when election results will be announced will also be revised for Spring 2014 SG elections. Last year, the winners were announced on the same day as the final day of voting, leaving little time for candidates to file voting complaints with the SEC, LaVelle said.
This year, there will be a five-hour period for candidates to submit complaints after voting ends, followed by a 24-hour review period by the SEC and another 24-hour period for candidates to appeal those decisions, LaVelle said.
The three tenets of TrueBU’s platform are community, empowerment and vision, with issues including reform of BU’s Student Activities Office, improving the peer-to-peer mental health support system and funding community-oriented startups, Golob said.
Golob said he became motivated to run for SG president after being elected CFA sophomore class president and witnessing the inner workings of the administrative process.
“You see systemic issues that hinder us from really forming the community that we want to see,” Golob said.
Yehia, SG’s current director of student affairs, said TrueBU is distinguished because of the unique backgrounds of its members and emphasized the importance of consulting the student body before making major decisions.
“We’re civil servants ready to serve the BU community,” she said. “That’s the way it should be, and sadly, I don’t think that’s the current situation.”
Kaul said she is running for SG president as part of the BU’s Push to Start slate because of the change she feels is necessary within Student Government.
“The central theme in our campaign is to be an inclusive student government,” Kaul said.
BU’s Push to Start aims to better involve student groups in the planning of projects in which they have a vested interest Kaul said. She also stressed the importance the slate places on transparency, both within the student government and in the university administration.
Ferme said although he has not been involved in Student Government before, he would offer a fresh perspective.
“Coming from the more normal student’s perspective might be beneficial, because it is a fresh face, fresh ideas, from someone who really hasn’t been involved in student government before,” Ferme said.
Candidates from True BU and BU’s Push to Start will face off in a debate held Thursday evening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in COM 101.