UConn students make their voice heard in joint elections

Students from the undergraduate student government gave out free cookies in the Student Union on Wednesday, March 1 to whoever voted online. Voting takes places at vote.uconn.edu until 11:59 p.m. today. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut students are now voting in the 2017 joint elections for their next student representatives. Voting takes place at vote.uconn.edu until 11:59 p.m. today.

Students received free Insomnia cookies, “I voted” stickers and other giveaways at the Student Activities tabling event in the Student Union on March 1 after showing their voting receipt on their phone or laptop. The tabling event continues today from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m in the Student Union.

Eighth-semester sociology and political science major Jimmy Documet Clarke said he had heard little about the elections before March 1, and that the tabling event and free cookies were a “big motivator” that inspired him to vote.

Eighth-semester finance major Emily Larkin also said she had heard little about the elections before March 1 and that the tabling event helped motivate her to vote.

“Today’s [March 1] the first time I even knew we were voting in the upcoming days. In the South dining hall, they were campaigning…so I knew about it then, and then just passing by the table at the Union. It’s a good way to make some change and get a cookie,” Larkin said.

Nitheesha Nakka, who is running promotions for joint elections and tabling on March 1 and 2, said a sizeable number of students came to the tabling event and showed excitement for voting on March 1. Many students took advantage of the informational packets about candidates’ platforms available at the tabling event, Nakka added.

“People have been really enthusiastic about who they want to vote for, for the cookies, but more than that, what I’m really impressed with is students being really diligent in…having an informed vote,” Nakka said. “You’ll see students very thoroughly reading them [the packets] and caring about who they put in office, which has been great. That’s exactly the sort of enthusiasm we want for the election.”

Sixth-semester communications major Arnell Lee said she voted for Andrew Stern for Undergraduate Student Government president and Venkatram Gopal for USG vice president because she agrees with their platform and appreciates them reaching out to different cultural centers.

“They came to both [The African American and the Asian American cultural] centers actually, which I felt was really good, because I thought, ‘If you guys take the time to come to the fourth floor, which a lot of people don’t, that really shows that you’re reaching to get in touch,’” Lee said. “I really agree with the funding for the different clubs and organizations. I feel like as a club that me and my friend run together, funding is very important for us, and…it’s something that I like to hear is being worked towards.”

Larkin said she voted for Irma Valverde for USG president because of Valverde’s credentials as the current USG vice president.

“I voted for Irma for president because I know that she’s vice president now…so I trusted her judgment,” Larkin said. “Today [on March 1] I saw her in the Student Union campaigning for votes, so I thought, ‘This seems like someone who’s dedicated and willing to make a change.’”

Documet Clarke said he voted for Stern and Gopal because they are the candidates with whom he is most familiar and finds them approachable.

“I voted for Stern and Gopal because I feel like I’ve seen their faces around before…and I’ve talked with Stern,” Documet Clarke said. “I feel like that’s really important. You want to be able to reach out in-person.”

Fourth-semester communications major Melanie Kahn said she voted for Christine Savino for undergraduate representative on the board of trustees because she felt that Savino deserved her vote after she saw Savino walk “all around McMahon” campaigning.

Lee expressed hope that all student representatives elected in the joint elections will emphasize students in their work.

“Regardless of who wins, I really do hope that we’ll see a better chance for the students on campus. That’s really what it comes down to: being about the students,” Lee said.


Alexandra Retter is staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.retter@uconn.edu.