Rising juniors Sabeet Kazmi and Rusama Haque will be the Students’ Association (SA) president and vice president next year, garnering twice as many votes as their competition. the President/Vice President ticket against first-years William Bothe and Zach Sussman. The Kazmi-Haque ticket won 507 votes, against rising sophomores William Bothe and Zach Sussman’s 238.
Notably, only 803 undergraduates voted this year, a low turnout for the 5,512 undergraduates enrolled at River Campus. This semester’s elections were especially unusual, between the all-virtual campaigns and the election coming on the heels of a mass resignation of senators from SA.
Students had mixed feelings about this year’s election. However, a common denominator among students interviewed for this article was their confusion over what SA does, their roles, and what they have accomplished.
“It’s hard to see concrete results for what people are working on,” first-year Noor Akhter said.
Some students had trouble voting due to confusion over how to do so, and for a period of time, the link to vote was down on CCC. Students also expressed that they were unable to find a platform they were passionate enough about to vote for.
“To be honest, we didn’t have a platform that provided us with more information about the people, we just heard a lot of very generic statements about their promises,” junior Mahmud Jumaev commented.
“Due to COVID[-19], I don’t think people were able to advertise as much,” first-year Bonnie Dong said. “When you go onto social media and see all these different posts about the same thing and the same picture saying, ‘Vote for Me,’ it’s not like we’re going to take the time to read everyone’s platform.”
It was mentioned during the interviews that some students received direct messages on Instagram from the Bothe-Sussman campaign imploring them to vote for them. While some of the students who received the message were unnerved by it, others simply felt unsatisfied.
“For me, it was honestly a turn-off,” first-year Sabrina Terando commented. “I feel like if you are having to ask for votes, you are not confident in your capabilities and what you’re providing to the campus […] you’re asking people to vote for you, instead of saying, ‘Here’s why you should vote for me.’”
Ahkter voted for the Kazmi-Haque ticket. She was motivated by their platform. “I liked their campaign a lot,” Akhter said. “It showed how committed they are and invested they were, and they would really stand up for important issues. I was really fascinated by their motivation and passion they put [into] their campaign.”
Students described their wishes for Kazmi and Haque as UR plans for what semesters after the COVID-19 pandemic look like. Of these wishes, some common threads are wanting a push for more interactive events and opportunities to integrate into the social side of campus.
“I would like more social activities and whatnot, having a college experience,” Terando said. “I would also like more interaction on campus.”
Others wished for a voice in the UR community, and to have a better connection with SA.
“Continuing to hold the administration and professors accountable to the student’s voices, and just making sure the students continue to get heard, and there is still a lot of representation for diversity and equity inclusion in the campus community,” sophomore Claire Decker commented.
“Getting in touch more with students,” Jumaev said. “I know it’s hard right now due to COVID[-19] and things, but I’m sure it’s still manageable if you don’t violate any rules.”
Students showed little surprise about the low number of votes.
“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” Decker said.