Student Government Elections Wrap Up at the 5Cs

Lusajo Mwakibete • The Student Life

Recently, four of the five Claremont Colleges—Pitzer College, Scripps College, Pomona College, and Harvey Mudd College—held their student government elections. Many positions at Pomona and Scripps were won uncontested, while the Pitzer Student Senate presidential race saw some tension.

Pitzer Student Senate revealed on Apr. 6 that the newly elected executive board is composed entirely of students of color, a first in the college’s history. President-elect Josue Pasillas PZ ’17 praised the elected executive board as a major step toward increasing the Senate’s inclusivity.

In a Mar. 31 debate between Pasillas and opposing candidate Elijah Pantoja PZ ’18, both candidates addressed Pitzer Student Senate’s low approval rates. The two largely agreed with criticism about Pitzer Student Senate’s lack of outreach and support for campus POC groups and general inaccessibility to the greater student body.

Concerns raised in the debate also included the low diversity of the Senate and the removal of the New Resource senate position, which worked with transfer and international students. Discussion of the New Resource position saw tensions rise between Pantoja and Pasillas, who both served on the executive board committee that was responsible for the removal of the New Resource position. Many saw Pasillas as a whistleblower for bringing the change to the attention of the student body, who was initially left unnotified.

The executive board-elect consists of Pasillas as President, Vice President Hajar Hammado PZ ’18, Communications Secretary Cindy Lou PZ ’18, Secretary Ace Elliott ’18, and Treasurer Harrison Sattley PZ ’19. A press release by Pasillas expressed hope that the diversity of the executive board could begin to ease the sour reputation of the student senate.

Voter turnout for Pitzer elections was around 40 percent, which Pasillas praised for being around twice the average turnout for private colleges across the country. Pasillas beat opponent Pantoja with 59 percent of the vote, while Hammado won with 63 percent.

On his victory, Pasillas wrote in an email that he hopes to work with college President-Designate Melvin Oliver to shift the college’s priorities “inward” and away from further expenditures on new construction projects. He also wrote that he hopes to work with the treasurer to make funding more accessible to student organizations.

At Scripps, Sneha Deo SC ’17 won the Scripps Associated Students (SAS) presidency unopposed, and Kelly Peng SC ’18 was elected vice president. Peng credited Deo’s lack of opposition to the student body’s support of Deo. 

“When you have a really strong candidate, they can run unopposed because people feel like the office is in good hands,” said Peng. “If there's already a person that's running for the position, a person will run against them if they think that they can do a better job. and so I think that's why she ran unopposed.”

Deo was not the only candidate to run unopposed; Secretary Nimrah Imam SC ’17, Co-Treasurers Pippa Haven SC ’17 and Chloe Soltis SC ’17, Diversity Chair Monika Lee ’17 and many other positions were elected as the sole candidates in their respective races.

SAS elections saw approximately 50 percent turnout. Scripps requires at least 50 percent turnout for a vote to be legitimate, which has prompted revotes in the past when votes on bylaws produced low turnouts. However, no SAS election has thus far needed to be repeated because of poor showings.

As with SAS, elections for the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) had a high proportion of uncontested positions. 758 students voted, roughly 45 percent of the student body, the lowest turnout in the last four years. In comparison, 2014 ASPC elections saw 1,041 voters; 2015 saw 834. In an email to TSL, current ASPC President Nico Kass PO '16 attributed the lower turnout to the number of uncontested positions. 

The elected ASPC President is Christina Tong PO '17, who is currently Commissioner for Academic Affairs. The elected Vice President for Finance is Olivia Dure PO '17, and the Vice President-elect for Campus Events is Aldair Arriola-Gomez PO '17.

Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College (ASHMC) declined to share specific percentages per candidate. Overall voter turnout for ASHMC President/Senate Chair, Judicial Board and Disciplinary Board elections was 42 percent. Shailee Samar HM '18 and Carla Becker HM '18 were elected as joint President/Chairs, and the JB and DB chairs will be Alex Ozmedir HM '17 and Micah Pedrick HM '17, respectively.