Coming hot on the heels of my previous blog post about the lack of serious competition, a new slate has officially entered contention. This slate, which presents Ryan Peacock for President and Jonathan Bakke for Vice President, is interesting in that it’s a graduate-only slate, but one coming from current ASSU officials. Peacock is on the Graduate Student Council and Bakke is the chair of Nominations Commission (full disclosure: I’m on NomCom as well).
As a graduate-only slate, they face a serious handicap. Looking at previous elections, undergraduates outnumbered graduate students 3,351 to 2,675 in 2008 and 3841 to 1783 in 2009. Although we’d hope that voters look across classification when making their decisions (which they have in the past; Gobaud/de la Torre won both the graduate and undergraduate groups, even though Gobaud is a graduate student), having a slate that is purely graduate students may still be a problem because undergraduates might fear that their concerns could take a back seat to graduate issues or simply because the name recognition of even politically active graduate students is much lower than that of some undergraduate players. So does this campaign stand a chance, if it’s facing this handicap?
Well, the Peacock/Bakke slate does have a few things going for it. First, as some may have noticed, there are 3 categories on the elections website. There is the ASSU, Funding, and then the previously unknown SMSA category. SMSA refers to the student government of the medical school which formerly had separate elections, even though the members of those schools could also vote in the broader general election. This meant that many members of that school didn’t bother to vote for Exec or GSC and simply did the SMSA ballot. Now that the two elections are consolidated, more medical students might be expected to vote, which would buoy a Peacock/Bakke slate (although not by too many votes, since the medical school is small).
If we have a year that looks more like 2008 than 2009, then, assuming that the Peacock/Bakke slate wins 85 percent of the graduate students, it only needs to win about 800 undergraduate votes to get a majority (roughly 6000 people voted in 2008, so slightly less than 3000 votes are needed to win, assuming that most people vote for Exec). That’s less than a quarter of the undergrads, which is doable.
Of course, there are still problems that Peacock/Bakke face, such as the fact that getting high graduate turnout may be difficult or that undergraduates have historically done most of the campaigning, so building a network of people to put up flyers or hold banners may be tough unless they make serious efforts to reach out to undergraduates. Only time will tell how things end up going.