Due to human error, students in the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development were only able to vote for their individual college Student Government one week after general elections closed.
Between April 5 to 8, all Wheelock candidates ran unopposed.
The ballot for Wheelock’s student government was incorrectly constructed using the non-existent college code “WED” to refer to the college. As a result, Wheelock students were not able to access voting options for their school, said Ben Fenster, assistant director of websites and webapps at BU Information Services and Technology.
“As Wheelock students logged in, they were identified as ‘SED’,” Fenster said. “And they would have had access to any questions restricted to ‘SED’ students, but there were no such questions. No one has access to ‘WED’ because there is no school or college.”
Wheelock College, a private college focused on early education founded in 1888, merged with BU’s School of Education in 2018. Today, Wheelock is still one of the smaller schools at BU, with a little more than 1, 200 students and represented by one senator in StuGov.
All Wheelock classes and students are identified as “SED” on the Student Link, Fenster said, in part due to the fact that the college code predates the merger with the School of Education.
Wheelock students were able to vote in general StuGov elections. No other college working with the SEC faced similar problems, Fenster added.
“I had a couple people ask me when we were going to vote for our student government, because they were just confused that they had voted and they didn’t see any of our names on there,” said Gwyneth Williams, sophomore and Wheelock’s StuGov president next year.
Though Wheelock’s current StuGov president contacted the SEC after discovering the glitch, she said, elections within the unified ballot proceeded without the college.
“If this was a bigger school like Questrom, or CAS or COM, then this would have been caught earlier,” said Lucy Friedland, 2021-22 Wheelock StuGov president. “It would have been updated immediately. The election might have even started over completely.”
In fall 2021, the SEC introduced the “unified ballot,” allowing students to vote in both general StuGov elections as well as for their individual college governments on the Student Link, members of the SEC said.
The SEC invited all college governments to adopt the unified ballot — all except for the College of Fine Arts opted in, said SEC Co-Chair Minji Kwak, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.
Friedland, a junior, said Wheelock hoped to join the unified ballot as a way to increase voter turnout and connect to the larger BU population.
SEC Co-Chair Regina Acosta, a Pardee senior, said she hopes the mistake will help to “safeguard future elections.”
“That way everybody can just go to one place and vote for their senators,” Acosta said. “And we hope for the colleges that have yet to be part of our ballot see that this is a really cool process.”
At the announcement dinner, the Wheelock College e-board was revealed for the next year.
“I still thought that everybody deserved to be at that dinner whether or not we had run the election,” Friedland said.
When asked if Wheelock would continue voting through the unified ballot in the future, Williams said the incoming e-board will examine student engagement during elections, but added she hoped to continue with the unified ballot.
“Looking towards next year, I would like this to not be an issue,” Williams said. “I’d love to be unified with the whole government because that’s the initial purpose of the unified ballot.”