After a dizzying series of events, Christine Savino has officially been named the next undergraduate trustee to the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, and she happens to be the first woman to hold the position in its history. The race for trustee has captured the attention of the UConn student population: in what first started with Savino fighting charges of plagiarism then going on to win the popular vote by a substantial amount, later being disqualified and finally successfully appealing and overturning her disqualification to become trustee.
Congratulations is deserved and should be given to Savino for her perseverance throughout the campaign and coming back to win the election. However, due to the plagiarism controversy and the original disqualification, there are still questions about her methods which should be acknowledged and considered seriously. She should be extremely cautious of making similar mistakes in the future. Savino was originally disqualified for not disclosing that she allegedly purchased a gift card in her campaign finance statement. On the second day of voting, Savino sent out an email to lists she gathered from various clubs saying she would enter them in a raffle for a $50 gift card if they voted and sent her a screenshot of their confirmation along with a sentence or two about their vision for UConn. Savino appealed the disqualification on the grounds that she did not end up actually purchasing the gift card. While the raffle is a de facto “bribe,” Savino was not disqualified for offering a monetary incentive for student votes, as there is no established rule of the Student Trustee Election Committee (STEC) against such type of actions.
To be fair, Savino said only two people reached back out to her email to enter the proposed raffle, and she ended up winning the popular vote by 346 votes to beat USG-establishment favorite George P. Wang 43 percent to 35 percent. However, there are still legitimate concerns about her willingness to use a monetary incentive for votes – even if she did not explicitly tell supporters they needed to vote for her to be entered in the raffle, and she claims it was an effort to improve student voter turnout overall.
If Savino is going to be an effective trustee, she should work on regaining student trust. Only with the trust of the student body, can she work best to achieve her goals of “increasing funding of mental health services to students, increasing parking space for students, calling on high-level administrators to stop taking raises and increasing outreach to students,” according to the Daily Campus.