Board of Elections Pushes Student Union Elections to the Fall

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Elections has decided to move all SU elections to the fall.

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After discussions with Coordinator of Student Affairs Matt Polazzo and Principal Eric Contreras, the Board of Elections (BOE) has decided to move all caucus and Student Union (SU) elections to the fall. Traditionally, campaigning and elections for the Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Caucuses, as well as for SU president and vice president, take place in the spring, while Freshman Caucus elections are held in the fall. Students running for Caucuses or SU usually put up posters around the school and participate in debates against other tickets, in addition to campaigning online through social media platforms like Facebook. This spring, however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in-person campaigns and elections will not be possible.

BOE Co-Chairs sophomore Ava Yap and junior Eric Han are responsible for running and overseeing all caucus and SU elections. “Confronted with an unprecedented interruption to this year’s election cycle, we are now also responsible for circumventing this issue,” Han said in an e-mail interview.

The pair considered two alternative options in response to the new circumstances this election season. “The first way that we [could have conducted] is online. In this situation, all campaigning would happen online,” Yap said. “[Another possible alternative] that Eric Han and I discussed [was] pushing all elections for SU and Caucuses to next year.”

Yap and Han consulted with Polazzo and Contreras before making their decision. “We always turn to the administration before making a major decision to avoid violating any DOE or Stuyvesant policies. They also offer advice but tend to defer to us for the final decision. In this case specifically, we reached out to [Polazzo] with our plans, […] [who] agreed to ask [Contreras] for approval,” Han said. “In the end, they both decided to trust our judgment.”

“We are doing the best we can during these difficult time[s]. The BOE wanted to push [elections] into the fall, and I saw no reason to disagree with their decision,” Polazzo said in an e-mail interview. In the case that remote learning resumes in September, however, the campaigning process will again have to be revised.

While SU elections could have been administered online, the BOE believed that campaigning completely online would not be as effective as an in-person election in engaging the entire student body. “For the most part, the candidates [who] are [campaigning for their respective positions] are doing so online through Facebook, Instagram, and other social media [platforms]. However, if you pay attention to the number of people who see these accounts, it isn’t nearly representative of the whole of the student body,” Yap said. “The lack of accurate representation is something that we want to avoid as much as possible, so the most viable option under [our current circumstances] is postponing elections until the fall.”

Because elected officials will be chosen later, several early-year processes will have to be revised. “Generally, during the summer after a candidate is elected, there is a very extensive selection process for their cabinet. After interviewing approximately 200 candidates for 10 minutes each, a cabinet is selected, and the cabinet can begin organizing events [such as] Camp Stuy Part Two and the Club Pub Fair,” said junior and SU Vice President Julian Giordano. “With the new election season, these [processes will need to be altered]. There is not much that we can do in order to [mitigate the consequences of the situation]. It is all up to how we handle it.”

Overall, the BOE is unsure of how the switch will affect elections. “As far as records from the past four years indicate, this will be the first time every election is held in the fall semester. Turnout could increase from excitement surrounding the new school year or decline because anxiety from new classes may distract possible voters,” Han said. “We will only be able to tell when September arrives.”