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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Freshmen choose senators in contest marked by high participation

Freshmen turned out in record numbers yesterday to elect their seven new Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators.

Joel Greenberg, Aaron Bartel, Katharina de Klerk, Danielle Cotter, Elliot McCarthy, Manuel Guzman and Jimmy Zuniga emerged victorious out of a 20-candiate field in a contest marked by 70.3 percent participation.

"In my experience, it is a record," Elections Commission (ECOM) Chair Anjali Nirmalan said of the voting percentage. "I have never seen this high."

TCU President Duncan Pickard said he is happy with the new additions to the body. "I honestly couldn't be more excited and more optimistic," he said. "This is a great freshman class and I can't wait to get started."

This year's participation rate for freshman Senate elections compares to 44 percent in 2006 and 62 percent in 2007. Nirmalan, a senior, attributed the increase to a smooth online voting process and the use of online campaigning. Candidates have only been allowed to advertise their campaigns online in recent years, and Nirmalan said that this phenomenon has had a gradual impact.

"These are advances we've made in the last couple years,  … but I think we're starting to see their effects more and more," she said.

According to Nirmalan, the spike this year corresponds with increased efforts by ECOM to provide candidates with guidelines about how to spread their messages via the Internet.  In past years, she said that ECOM had been adapting to the new process and had not been able to play a strong advisory role in the field of online advertising.

"I think that when we first legalized it, we were still unfamiliar with what we were doing," she said. "I think that more guidelines actually tend to inspire candidates more."

Nirmalan said that the peek voting time in the 24-hour election came just after midnight Wednesday morning. Based on the results of a survey question included in the ballot, she said that most voters heard about the contest through one of the candidates. An e-mail sent to all the freshmen as well as publicity also brought a significant number of first years to the polls.

Pickard said he is looking forward to working with the Senate's new members and that the ideas they put forth during Monday's forum in Hotung for freshman hopefuls piqued his interest.

"I was really impressed … with everyone's criticisms and thoughtful outlook on Tufts," he said. "I think that freshmen always bring a unique outlook and a lot of enthusiasm that really [are] a force on Senate."

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