Senate’s seats getting hotter

Ryan Brown, Managing Editor

The Student Senate’s old guard may be getting nervous.

More students are running for legislative seats in this week’s general election – closely following a presidential race with a record campus turnout – than in any election in the last five years.

“We pushed it a lot more this year,” Michael Pearsall, the senate’s 2012 election chairman, said. The online vote was scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Tuesday and end 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Election officers last week recorded 50 candidates for 28 open seats, Pearsall said, including two whose eligibility was to be determined at a Monday meeting.

Compare that with a candidate list that barely covered the same open seats last April.

Some current senators, who all have to run again to maintain their seats, said they’re concerned about the influx of new candidates.

“You’re not guaranteed anything,” said Christian Woo, who is running for a second full senate term after losing this year’s presidential race to Cliff Maloney. “We’re really nervous.”

Following a noticeably Web-based presidential season last month, many candidates have organized Facebook support groups featuring their photos and campaign themes.

To secure a spot on the ballot, candidates needed a 2.0 grade-point average and 75 signatures on a petition.

First-time candidates last week could be seen gathering signatures and explaining their platforms, though few seemed to have a specific policy set to advertise.

“I did not have difficulty gathering signatures,” freshman candidate Kaitlyn Torquato said in an e-mail. “I have very supportive friends here on campus.”

Torquato said she has used Facebook pages and fliers to advertise her candidacy, having gathered her 75 signatures in just two days.

Some students’ candidacies were in question last week, including one whose petition was submitted past the deadline. Senators voted Monday on whether to allow in-question candidates on the ballot.

Some sitting legislators said they expect a large contingent of new senators next year.

“There are going to be a lot of new faces,” Woo said. “And it’s good.”

Eight freshman seats are to be filled early next school year, as well, and Pearsall said he expects a few additional spots to open in the semester’s first weeks.

While as many as 22 candidates could go home empty-handed, a few could secure positions when they return to school.

“If people don’t get on, they shouldn’t get discouraged,” said Pearsall, who joined the senate after losing an election and writing an admission letter months later.

“As soon as we got back, a spot opened up . . . and I got on.”