Results for the 2013-14 Students’ Association and Class Council elections were officially confirmed by Information Technology on Wednesday, April 10 and will be officially approved by Senate at their final meeting on Monday, April 15.
Juniors Shilpa Topudurti and Greg Corrado have officially been elected as SA president and vice president, respectively, garnering 1,105 votes out of 1,509 cast in a presidential election that proved uncontested for the third consecutive year.
The SA presidential and vice presidential election has been uncontested since 2011. The last time an election was uncontested prior to 2011 was in 2003. In the last five years, voter turnout peaked in 2010 at 1,617 voters, excluding write-in candidates.
Topudurti is the first female to be elected SA president in 15 years since Skye Morey ’99 served during the 1998-99 academic year.
In the presidential election, write-in candidates took 126 votes, while the remaining 278 voters abstained.
The five Senator-at-large positions, like the presidential ticket, were uncontested.
Sophomore and senator Vanessa Sanchez, who took the largest percentage of the vote — 871 out of 1,509 — was disappointed that the at-large election was uncontested. She attributes the lack of competition to the fact that the SA doesn’t communicate effectively enough.
“I think people are very unaware of what the SA does,” she said.
She also attributes the lack of candidates to the fact that last year’s senator-at-large election was so competitive — 16 candidates — possibly deterring people from running this year.
Benjamin and Soderstrom were also disappointed in the lack of contenders.
“I believe that a healthy election entails some higher level of competition, which a few more candidates would have added,” Benjamin said.
Junior Jonathan LoTempio, who garnered 201 out of 398 votes cast in the 2014 Senator election, said he felt pleased that the race had four contenders besides himself despite the fact that there was no competition.
“Every person could have lost, and I know that we all treated [the race] with the respect it deserved,” he said.
Sophomore Jeffrey Frank, junior Siobhan Mclaughlin, and LoTempio all commented on how the lack of competition altered their campaign strategies, relying on electronic campaigning and word of mouth.
Regardless of the race, LoTempio is excited for next year.
“I wanted to continue my time at the table because I have found that senators who take the job seriously can instill great change at this university,” he said.
Frank has not previously served in the SA but said he was drawn to it because of a passion for politics and desire to serve UR.
“I’ve been itching to get involved in some way other than through music, my other passion,” Frank said. “I felt that representing the Class of 2015 as a senator would not only be a great way to get involved, but also the most effective way for me to give back to the school community.”
McLaughlin, who won 208 votes out of 398 cast to earn a spot on the 2014 Class Council, said she was surprised by the number of people who ran — 13 for eight spots.
Despite the notable lack of competition in their race as well, Topudurti and Corrado acknowledged that the election brought their campaign to reality.
Upon hearing the results on Tuesday night, Topudurti said she felt “so many emotions” but is still “a little cautious” about the challenges to come as president.
“I’m full of energy,” Corrado said. “It really just hit me that we’re finally going to do this and I’m very excited.”
As the first female president in years, Topudurti is excited about the possibilities.
“I’m excited to reach out to leaders across all student groups on campus,” she said, adding that she is interested in “community-based advocacy” and that the strongest senators tend to be “new critical thinkers [who] add something fresh to the table.”
Topudurti also said she thinks there is a “huge void” of females in the SA. Only three of the 14 senators elected are female. She attributes this, in part, to the fact that the SA tends to have a culture in which friends get their friends involved, resulting in the imbalance. She said she met with UR’s Women’s Caucus for its perspective on the matter and, ultimately, views the lack of female representation as another opportunity.
“I’m hoping this [election] will inspire more females to get involved,” she said.
Senior and current SA president Roshal Patel expressed overwhelming optimism about the winners.
“Having been Speaker [of the Senate], I think she has an advantage,” he said of Topudurti. “She has a clear and focused vision and has been on the same page as me this year.”
Patel, who will be a Take Five Scholar next year, plans to advise Topudurti and Corrado as needed without being directly involved in the SA.
“I want to give back in a different way,” he said. “I think the SA is a stepping stone to a lot of different things.”
Topudurti said that upon becoming Speaker of the Senate for this academic year, she did not at all think that she would run for president. Rather, she made her platform for president and thought of what she wanted to accomplish before deciding to run.
“I said ‘here’s what I want to do,’ and then realized that this is the position I could accomplish it in,” she said. “That’s why I’m excited.”
In Topudurti’s previous roles in SA as Chair of the Policy & Review Committee during her sophomore year and Speaker of the Senate this year, impartiality was key.
“It will be interesting to go from not having a voice for two years to being in a more visionary and agenda-setting role,” she said. “It will be nice to be much more vocal. I’m excited to take my leadership development and engagement skills into my new role.”
She also thinks her substantial background in SA will balance out well with Corrado’s skills.
Corrado has only served as a senator-at-large for one semester, but has the “background and fundamental knowledge of howSA government operates” while still being “new enough that he is willing to challenge precedent and to challenge me,” Topudurti said.
“I think my experience can make it seem like everyone should be in agreement with what I say, but I want someone to really challenge me and ask why I believe in what I do,” she said.
Corrado agreed that his experience will complement Topudurti, who he says he “looks up to a lot.”
He said he initially got involved in SA after having “carved a place in many separate communities” on campus, particularly as a member of the Midnight Ramblers and Greek Life.
“I wanted to do something with a more general scope,” Corrado said of his motivation to get involved with the SA.
Corrado added that he thinks he and Topudurti will make a good team because the vice presidential role plays best to his strengths, and he wasn’t interested in serving as president.
“I knew I wanted to make as much of an impact on campus as I could,” he said.
Patel said he was impressed with turnout compared to past years but disappointed with the number of candidates in the Senate races.
Topudurti said that she thinks the layout of the voting page this year, which allowed students to either vote or abstain in the presidential election before clicking through to the Senate and Class Council elections, led to a higher voter turnout: more people who would normally not have voted in the presidential election abstained.
Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.