Students Elect New ASPC Senators in Paperless Campaign
Jessie Welcomer | Sept. 23, 2011, 9:03 a.m.
Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) elections were held from Monday, Sept. 19 to Tuesday, Sept. 20. Seven hundred eighty-one Pomona students voted on the ASPC website during the 24-hour time period. Anna Gibson ’12, Nick Lawson ’14, Frances Kyl ’14, and Rishi Sangani '15 won the positions of North Campus Representative, South Campus Representative, Sophomore Class President, and First-Year Class President, respectively.
Gibson already has plans for the rest of the year and has begun collaborating with fellow students to determine what her classmates want to see happen.
“My campaign promises were to continue making Frank and Frary destinations for ethical, sustainable, and delicious food and to work with Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault on the revisions to the sexual assault policy in the student handbook,” she said. “A major goal for me as North Campus Representative is getting ideas from students to action in the ASPC.”
Lawson said he hopes to increase dialogue between administration and the student body to minimize misunderstandings.
“I’m looking forward to seeing more transparency between the administration’s decisions and the way that’s translated to students," he said. "I think that in the past, a lot of the issues that have come up have been miscommunications between administrators and students, and I want to put an end to that."
In addition, as South Campus Representative, Lawson will chair the Food Committee and Residence Hall Committee. He said he already has ideas for change, including bringing an ice machine back to South Campus and adding labeling for nutritional facts to the dining halls.
Kyl said she aims to encourage unity throughout the sophomore class by holding a weekly open meeting for members of the Class of 2014 to share suggestions and ideas for new events. She said she believes her experience working with ASPC last year will help her in her new role as Sophomore Class President.
“Last year, I co-chaired the First-Year Committee," Kyl said. "I was intrigued by all the information that ASPC receives but never really disseminates to the students. I want to change that."
“I’m excited that I’ll be able to actually work on a lot more policy changes this year,” she added.
Sangani, the newly-elected First-Year Class President, also hopes to hold events for his class that will allow students to meet new people during their first year at Pomona.
“Pomona does a good job of helping us get to know each other and get us a good friend base, but I would like to put on events that help us know more of our class… and build class unity and school spirit,” Sangani said.
ASPC elections, though a biannual event, were run somewhat differently this year due to recent election policy changes that were voted on by the ASPC Senate Sept. 12. One new policy forbids ASPC clubs from funding candidates' campaigns, although that has never been an issue in the past, and another moves to publicly-funded elections, whereby ASPC reimburses candidates for the maximum $20 they are allowed to spend on campaigns.
“I pushed for this change because I don’t want the cost of campaigning to hinder anybody from running for ASPC Senate," Commissioner of Academic Affairs Will Gamber ’13 said. "All students have the right to influence policy and to run for government, and I hope that this change increases access to student government."
ASPC also moved to make the elections near-paperless, so that students were not allowed to campaign with flyers, though they were permitted to make posters in the ASPC poster lab and advertise through other means. Though the ban was an attempt to make elections more environmentally-friendly, not all senators agreed with the new policy.
“I’m in favor of placing a cap on the number of flyers that candidates can use and requiring them to [print] on the backs of recycled paper," ASPC President Nate Brown ’12 said. "But I wasn’t in favor of a completely flyer-less election."
Some students also worried that without flyers, student awareness of the election would be severely diminished.
“There is already an extreme amount of apathy amongst our student body when it comes to voting, and disallowing fliers will make students even less likely to vote,” North Campus Representative candidate Jeff Levere ’12 said prior to the election.
According to Brown, however, turnout was surprisingly high, with 781 Pomona students voting, up from 735 votes in the spring 2011 elections. Brown said the turnout was especially impressive considering that fall elections usually do not get as high a turnout as spring elections. Only 579 Pomona students voted in last fall’s elections.
Campaigning began after a meeting for candidates’ on Sept. 14 and ended with the opening of the polls at 9 p.m. on Sept. 19. Without the traditional flyers to help spread the word, candidates reached out to students in other ways during their campaigns.
“I think that the paperless campaigning definitely forced people to think outside of the box in the ways that they chose to campaign," Russell said. "I definitely saw more student-candidate interaction going on, rather than just simple flyers."
Candidates had the chance to personally reach out to their peers during the candidates’ forum at Frank Dining Hall on Sept. 18, and some candidates also organized a question and answer session for fellow students. Apart from speaking directly to voters, candidates reached out through social media networks like Facebook by creating 'events' and sending messages.
“Every single person running for office in this election had a Facebook event linked from the ASPC website and emails, so I'm assuming that Facebook has become the space in which people are actually campaigning. That's exactly the strategy I took,” Gibson said.
With elections over, Gibson echoed how other winning candidates feel as they begin transitioning into their new roles.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and honored that my classmates chose me for this position,” Gibson said. “I’m excited to get to work.”