The saying "the more the merrier" is one of the oldest cliches in the English language.
The Undergraduate Council is looking to disprove it.
In a year in which the number of candidates approached a record low, the council has seen its usual share of jockeying and politicking during this week's general election.
Early this week, the council's inaugural election commission announced that only 99 candidates would be competing for the council's 88 spots.
Several houses witnessed non-competitive elections in which the number of seats was greater than or equal to the number of candidates.
Dunster, Mather, North and Winthrop Houses each had four candidates competing for five seats. Quincy House had five students jockeying for six seats; there were two candidates for Dudley Houses's three slots on the council.
The decline from last year was significant. In the fall of 1993, Kirkland and Eliot Houses each had more than twice as many candidates as seats. But this year, the voters in those houses had no choices--there were five candidates competing for five slots in each house. Elections were similarly non-competitive in Currier House and the Southwest district of the Yard.
Results from the election will be available Sunday afternoon, according to commission member and former president Carey W. Gabay '94. Balloting began Tuesday and concluded yesterday.
The modest number of candidates has resulted despite the publicity efforts of the commission, which is comprised of three former council members who have promised not to seek seats this year.
This year's turnout was especially unimpressive because the election commission extended the usual application filing deadline by one day. That move allowed eight more students to run for the council.
Election commission member John A. Mann '92-'94 attributed the low application numbers to the fact that last year's delegates felt underappreciated.
"A lot of representatives were disaffected last spring," said Mann, who served as an executive of the council that semester. "Most of us were working hard on well-attended, quality events and not getting any credit for it because of [scandals]."
Despite the dearth of candidates, the names of some old council power brokers appeared on house ballots.
In particular, former executives David L. Hanselman '94-'95 and Randall A. Fine '96 have decided to return to the council after one-year respites.
Former vice-chair Hanselman and former secretary Fine were two of the three highest-ranking council members in the spring of 1993. Hanselman took last year off from school, while Fine lost his seat in last fall's general election.
Both are all but guaranteed a return to the council. Fine in North and Hanselman in Currier ran in non-competitive elections.
Hanselman announced this week that he will challenge returning Vice President Joshua D. Liston '95 for the council presidency. Liston, who declared his candidacy in June, had no opponents before Hanselman's announcement.
Hanselman said this week that his time away from Harvard--during which he worked for a political organization in Indiana and got married--has provided him with the perspective of an outsider. Thanks to his time on the executive board, Hanselman said, he has the necessary tools to serve as an effective leader of the council.
In a five-page statement, Hanselman proposed calling a special session of the council committees on the night of officer elections. This would allow the council to get a head start on its agenda for the year, Hanselman said.
Hanselman also proposed convening a "Leadership and Issues Forum" between the council and University officials such as President Neil L. Rudenstine.
Meanwhile, Liston released a statement in which he reversed himself on several controversial positions he took last spring. Liston said a referendum conducted last spring proved that students do not support the council's $10 term-bill fee hike or elimination of the easy waiver of the council fee.
Last spring, when Liston was pushing for both of those measures, he pointed to the referendum's minuscule 22 percent turnout as evidence that students were "deferring" to the council.
Hanselman blasted Liston in a statement.
"Mr. Liston's ever-changing positions come more from political expediency than wanting to do what's right for the students," he said.
Hanselman's public barbs came despite the fact that he and Liston joined the same "political party" this week.
The two presidential candidates signed up for the Movement to Reform the U.C. (MRUC), which announced its formation this week.
MRUC, organized by incumbents Rudd W. Coffey '97 and David V. Bonfili '96, recruited nearly 30 council candidates, each of whom signed on to a platform of reform.
MRUC's goals include adding another set of general elections before second semester. The party also wants to allow students to withhold all council funding--rather than the present five-sixths--by checking a box on the term bill.
The party has also promised to push for student services such as a 24-hour library, an interhouse facebook and reform of the core curriculum.
When he announced its creation, Bonfili said MRUC did not plan to endorse a presidential candidate.