The newly elected freshmen senators are James Ferencsik and Kavita Jain for Academic Affairs, McCall Wells and Melodie Bonanno for Equity and Outreach, Meredith Davin and Priyanka Venkannagari for Services, Ben Salzman and Katherine Zhou for Durham and Regional Affairs, Shelby Wailes for Social Culture, Emma Gruber and George Mellgard for Residential Life and John Turanchik for Facilities and the Environment.
When the polls closed at 10 p.m. Tuesday night, a total of 662 votes had been cast, a sharp decline from last year’s 831 votes.
“Personally, I consider this to be a fairly good voter turnout considering how much effort actually had to go into the voting,” wrote DSG Attorney General Syed Adil, a sophomore, in an email Tuesday.
He noted that the ranking system of the ballots and the large number of candidates—48 total—may have made the process time consuming and deterred voters.
The decline may be linked to the circulation of a website created by first-year Gautam Chebrolu. Posted in the official class of 2017 Facebook group Sept. 9, the site titled “Don’t Vote: Change," presented a perspective on the effectiveness and legitimacy of DSG. For example, Chebrolu highlights how candidates rely heavily on their friends for success in the polls, rather than legitimate platforms.
“DSG was made so that people could practice politics—that’s why it’s there," Chebrolu said. "People don’t try to fix [DSG], they just try to uphold it because they’re running."
Though the title was meant mostly to grab attention and encourage voters to think critically about the merits of each candidate, rather than deter voters, he noted he was happy to see a number of people discussing the post on Facebook.
Regardless of voter turnout, Bonanno said she is “elated” and surprised to have won. While many candidates campaigned by papering the surfaces of East Campus with fliers, Bonanno chose a different method.
“I mostly used social media to help me out. I didn’t have access to a[n off-campus] printer, so I made a Facebook page," she said.
Candidates were required to purchase all campaign materials with a $25 allotment from DSG. In order to assure fairness, candidates were not allowed to use materials already within their possession or ePrint funds.
Bonanno said she doesn’t yet have any specific goals for her role in the DSG, as she wants to become better acquainted with how the Senate works before solidifying her plans.
Jain has a more defined agenda. She plans to push for more opportunities for first-years to build relationships with faculty as well as better pre-registration advising.
“Freshmen should be able to speak with their academic advisor and/or pre-major advisor before they enroll in courses... to choose a schedule that suits them better," wrote Jain in an email Wednesday.
Executive Vice President of DSG junior Nikolai Doytchinov congratulated the newly elected senators, and said this was one of the most competitive campus elections he has seen.
“My advice to [the candidates] would be to approach DSG with the same seriousness and enthusiasm with which they approached their campaigns," Doytchinov said.
He added that that there are a number of positions within DSG that unelected candidates should consider applying to.
“It's easy to see there's a lot of talented first-years out there who could be helpful in DSG,” Adil said.