The 2017 joint elections have arrived at the University of Connecticut. From now until 11:59 p.m. on March 2, students will vote on who will next represent them next year.
Students will elect a new undergraduate representative to the university’s board of trustees and a new student board member to the UConn Foundation. They will also vote for a new president, vice president and comptroller for the Undergraduate Student Government, as well as new USG academic senators.
Students can vote online at vote.uconn.edu after logging in with their NetIDs.
“Because it’s using your NetID and password, what students can vote for in Storrs will obviously be different than someone who goes to, say, Hartford,” said Nitheesha Nakka, who is running promotions for the joint elections. “Someone in Hartford can’t vote for any of our USG representatives.“
“So as far as USG goes, that’s Storrs only, and then the board of trustees position and the (UConn Foundation) student director position, that is all campuses,” Nakka said.
Student Activities will host a tabling event near Union Street Market in the Student Union from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both March 1 and March 2 to encourage students to get out and vote, Nakka said.
“At the table, we’re going to have a bunch of packets out with the candidates and their statements, in case students want to know just a little bit more about who the candidates are,” Nakka said. “We have ‘I voted’ stickers, buttons, cookies, pens, water bottles and a bunch of giveaways…we’re going to have Jonathan the Husky, the person, not the actual dog.”
Nakka said that all students should vote to receive the representation that they want in important university governing bodies and to make their voice heard.
“All these governing bodies are their own discrete powers on our UConn campus, and they all advocate for the student body. For example, USG is the Storrs main advocacy group. It’s one of the recognized governing bodies by the board of trustees, and we pay a fee to them every semester, every year. … They’re the vehicle to advocate for their fellow undergraduate students,” Nakka said.
The board of trustees undergraduate representative and UConn Foundation board student representative positions are key to making student opinion known at the highest levels of university administration, Nakka said.
“With the board of trustees, what a lot of people don’t know is they’re the head honchos; they elect the president of the University of Connecticut, they decide our tuition fees,” Nakka said. “They have a voting seat with the student representative on the board of trustees, so as far as taking the student voice directly to the top, these positions do that. So that’s why you should vote: because no vote, no voice. If you want to put a person in power that’s going to advocate for you and your interests, then that’s why you should vote.”
Nakka said that she hopes that the tabling event will result in higher voter turnout and potentially motivate students to run for these positions themselves in the future.
“I think we get around 2,200 votes or so every year, but of course we have thousands more students on our UConn campus alone, so it’s honestly just getting the voting numbers up and getting the awareness up,” Nakka said. “If people are walking through the Union and they hear about the joint elections, they know it’s not just USG, it’s about so many governing bodies that are governing their student academic life at UConn. Hopefully that will not only persuade them to vote, but participate more in our politics in general, and maybe even encourage them to go out for these positions in the future.”
Alexandra Retter is staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.