By Joe Wlos
The fall semester SGA senator elections are still a tossup. With only four senators elected so far, close to 20 candidates have been entered in runoff elections for Clangrala, CaNaDa, East, Jamaland, Loosehead and Off-Campus. The results of those votes will be announced Friday around 11:59 p.m.
“It’s difficult for people to win outright, because they have to win a certain percentage of the total vote in their cluster,” said SGA Administrative Coordinator Ron Chiu ’13. “The total vote accounts for invalid write-ins and people who vote for the same candidate twice or even three times, so it becomes that much harder for [candidates] to gain a winning percentage. The total number is always skewed by those invalid votes.”
“I’m working with other members of SGA to try and propose changes to the by-laws that will help correct this problem,” said Election Board Chair Peter Bautz ’15.
Smounker is the only cluster that has decided on both of its representatives. Tefiro Serunjogi ’15 will join SGA veteran Sam Mulopulos ’14 at the weekly Joint Board meetings—the pair ran unopposed.
“Tefiro and I live just down the hall from each other,” Mulopulos said. “It’s going to be great.”
“We have a lot of things that we share common interests on—social justice, careers on campus, environmental justice,” Serunjogi said. “Those are just a few things we care about.”
Austin Cote ’15 secured his seat representing CaNaDa, focusing on difficult issues.
“I know this year will bring change to the College,” Cote said. “I suspect that in the upcoming year, the Senate and SGA at large will try to tackle the recent spike in alcohol related hospitalizations.”
Jamaland re-elected Brian Silberberg ’14. The cluster’s other senator will likely be Nathaniel Tingley ’15, who is expected to gain enough votes over votes of no confidence. Every other seat is still up for grabs, and the competition has been fierce.
“I saw a lot of anger from some of my opponents this year, more than I have ever seen before,” said Loosehead candidate Robert Menner ’14. “Maybe people feel angry because it is turning out to be a heated race.”
While some candidates blamed the tone, others focused on the problems of campaigning on Grinnell’s campus.
“It’s a shame that FM keeps taking our posters down,” Clangrala candidate Nathan Forman ’15 said. “That’s really annoying. I put up a fair amount of posters in the loggia last night, and they were up when I went to class, but now they’re all gone.”
However, the unusual number of run-off elections had little to do with lack of publicity. Enough students voted, but in many cases, “No Confidence” won a large total of the votes.
“If elected senator, I will look into changing the whole ‘No Confidence’ thing,” said CaNaDa candidate Jarrett Thompson ’14. “I feel as though a no confidence vote is not needed, and should be changed.”
Even without the stress of campaign problems, the election has left some candidates on edge.
“I’m in a shifty position,” Loosehead candidate Darwin Manning ’13 said. “I’m not too confident, but I think there are going to be some close results.”
No matter what the makeup of the new senate, both senators and cabinet members are hoping for a good semester. Mulopulos focused on the concept of civility.
“I like to bring some lightheartedness in to it. We need to make it fun. Sometimes last year, people took it a little too seriously—cursing at senators,” Mulopulos said.
While Mulopulos promotes cooperation, he still wants to make Joint Board a dynamic and deliberative body.
“Joint Board has always been treated as a group of ‘yes men,’” Mulopulos said. “Some people come with proposals, and they say, ‘We would like you to rubber stamp this.’ That’s dangerous.”
“We are looking forward to working with a committed group of senators this semester,” said SGA President Colleen Osborne ’13 in a statement. “We hope that all students come to Joint Board to voice their opinions.”