Unity Party wins unopposed UB SA election, 1 percent of students vote
SA election yields the ‘expected result’
The night of the Student Association elections result announcement normally features the different party candidates crowded into the SA office, with one party celebrating in victory and the other devastated in defeat after an announcement from the Election and Credentials Chair.
Joe Pace found out he was elected SA treasurer Thursday in a text message. He said he then finished eating his sandwich and went on with his day.
“It was kind of more of an expected result,” Pace said.
The Unity Party was officially elected to the SA executive board Thursday after an unopposed race. SA Election and Credentials Chair Matthew Siwiec alerted the Unity candidates of the results in a group text. Only 217 students – or roughly 1 percent of UB undergraduates – voted in the election. One hundred and fifty five students voted in the last unopposed election in 2008.
Juniors Minahil Khan and Sean Kaczmarek were elected as president and vice president respectively with 209 votes, while Pace – also a junior – was elected as treasurer with 191 votes. Students had the choice between voting for the Unity candidates or submitting a blank ballot. Eight students chose to do so for the president and vice president, while 26 chose to do so for the treasurer position.
This year’s election offered less anticipation and drama than in the past when multiple parties ran. The Clarity Party dropped out of the race on April 6 after not receiving endorsements from the Academic, Engineering and Sports Councils.
“I know the intensity that happens right before election results are revealed and the hour you’re waiting … Going into it, we knew it was going to be different,” Khan said. “We continued through and tried to campaign as much as we could and kind of anticipated the election results would be a little bit different.”
The candidates still campaigned in the Student Union lobby throughout the week. Kaczmarek said that because the candidates knew there wasn’t going to be a “hype build up” for the election results, their main focus was on informing students. Khan said it was important to the three of them to inform students of their platform and that the election was happening.
She said she met a lot of students that didn’t know what SA is and she hopes her interactions made them think about getting involved in SA.
“At the end of the day, whether or not we’re unopposed, students are still paying $100 a semester, so there’s still value and investment in their student government,” Khan said.
Students currently pay $94.75 each semester to the SA for the mandatory student activity fee. Starting next semester, that fee is going up $10. The SA manages more than $3.5 million.
Most SA elections bring roughly 15 percent of the student body to the polls, but this year brought the lowest turnout since 2008. That election was held for only two days, compared to the typical three. This year’s polls were open for three days, but for slightly reduced hours.
Khan said having multiple candidates would help gain more student interest in the future.
One of Khan’s main platforms was to increase student involvement in SA, and she hopes that by creating an “inclusive environment for students,” more students will run in the future.
Although Khan has the power to appoint four SUNY delegates as the president-elect, the appointees must be students who have won a student-wide election for their current position, according to SUNY guidelines, Khan said. That leaves Kazcmarek, Pace, the UB Council Student Representative and the SA senators. SA Assembly Speaker Melissa Kathan is set to run unopposed in next week’s UB Council Student Representative election.
Khan said she is “definitely looking for people who have been involved in the SUNY process and would do a good job representing UB” for her delegates.
The e-board elects said they are excited to begin working on their platform goals over the summer so the SA can run smoothly when most of the other staff and students return in the fall.
Pace said he wants to “delve into the finance portion and work with book keepers” to increase his knowledge of “what’s going on and what needs to be ironed out.”
He said he wants to make sure his plan to make it easier for clubs to receive a rollover from their budgets goes over smoothly and that clubs are made aware of it.
Kaczmarek wants to get the club handbook ready and help Pace implement the new rollover policy.
Khan said she wants to begin her inclusive hiring process right away and will be sending out the SA position opening to different listservs shortly.
Tom Dinki is the senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org