Due to lack of advertising and a late drafting of University Council Election Rules and Regulations, Student Association President Christian Oliver has requested that the University Council student representative election be postponed.
Oliver submitted a request via e-mail to the University Council Elections Committee and the Council of Presidents to reschedule the election from this Thursday to Thursday, April 25 and Friday, April 26. The university mandates that the election must take place by April 11.
According to Oliver, the Council of Presidents (consisting of leaders from each of the seven student governments) met in October to discuss election procedure. The sub-committee to create the UC Election Rules and Regulations "was formed at an extremely late date" due to "reasons outside [the council's] control."
"Unfortunately, I think the [election] calendar was too optimistic and that there was never adequate time for the election process to fairly take place," stated Oliver, in the e-mail.
In her response to Oliver's e-mail, President Janine Santiago of the Graduate Student Association said she does not oppose changing the date of the election.
"I believe that as Council of Presidents, we should maintain open lines of communication in order to protect our image as student leaders," stated Santiago. "If it's for the good of student representation that we move this election date until next week, I think we should try that."
Another reason for the delay, according to Santiago, was that the UC Elections Committee did not receive student identification numbers from the Office of Student Affairs until Friday, April. 5. Since the elections are being held online through UB's medical school, student identification numbers were required in order to ensure that each student casts only one vote.
Barbara Ricotta, associate vice president for Student Affairs, verified Santiago's claim. She said that when Student Affairs met with the Council of Presidents in October, there was no interest in administering the ballots electronically until they met again in March.
Before handing the data over, Ricotta said she wanted to make sure the information would remain secure and would not be handled exclusively by students.
"[The council] wanted to use an electronic format that hadn't been used before," said Ricotta. "So before we released the data, I wanted to make sure it would be handled appropriately."
Oliver said he was skeptical of administering the vote online as opposed to in voting booths on campus.
"I always saw the election process as being a physical presence," said Oliver. "Without that established, most people won't take the time to do it."
Santiago said online voting is necessary because many graduate and professional students conduct research and academic endeavors off-campus and online voting would accommodate greater participation. In her e-mail response, Santiago said Student Representative Candidate Brendan Keane informed her that SA would pay for computer polling sites in the Student Union.
"If we are going to have computer polling sites, they should be on all three campuses," she stated. "So then all students (not only undergrads) can have access."
Due to the late scheduling of the election, advertising for candidates and the election itself was minimal. Santiago said the GSA did post fliers between Wednesday March 6 and Wednesday, April 3, informing students that elections were coming up and they could seek candidacy.
Keane was concerned with the lack of advertising for the election and that he has been unable to speak with his competitor, David Vater, Jr. "for more than five minutes" and "hear him speak to the student governments."
In addition, Keane questioned the legality of an informational box about Vater printed in the GSA Newsletter, saying it was against election rules and regulations for student governments to endorse candidates.
Santiago said the box was not an endorsement and that GSA did not know Keane was running for the position when they published Vater's information. She noted that both candidates' information is now available on the GSA Web site.
"If we knew Brendan was running, we would have put his information in [the newsletter], too," she said.
Keane told The Spectrum he would withdraw from the race if the election could not be rescheduled for a later date, to allow adequate time for public notification.
Ricotta said she would support postponement of the election if all the student governments formally agreed.