132 Declare Candidacy For Council

Stunning Rise Is Attributed To PUCC, Improved Image

In a stunning reversal from last year's underwhelming turnout, a near record 133 students have signed up to run for the Undergraduate Council, according to an unofficial candidate summary released yesterday afternoon.

That total is more than 30 percent higher than the 99 students who ran for the council's 88 slots last year.

"I'm really psyched about it," said council executive and presidential hopeful Jonathan P. Feeney '97. "Competitive races are going to help the student body focus a lot on the issues, and that's what I want to do."

Among the most telling statistics is the rise in the number of districts where there are more candidates than seats Last year, a paltry seven of the 17 districts were competitive; this year, all but Eliot, Leverett, Lowell and Winthrop Houses are.

Observers attribute the increase in candidates to two factors.


The first is the rise of the Progressive Undergraduate Council Coalition (PUCC), a political organization spear headed by leaders of the College's liberal student community. PUCC is hoping to enhance the council's diversity and use the council as means of advancing a political agenda.

Forty-five students will run for council seats under PUCC's aegis, according to a list provided by leaders of the coalition.

The coalition will run candidates in every house except Leverett, Winthrop and Currier, including to first years and a full slate of five in Pforzheimer House.

"I suppose it went more erratically than would have been optimal...but in the end we've gotten more candidates than I ever thought we would," said Scott I. Shuchart '97, a PUCC leader.

"We anticipate running enough candidates under the PUCC banner to constitute something very close to a majority [in the council]," said Jedidiah S. Purdy '97, one of PUCC's primary organizers.

PUCC would win a majority of the council's seats it all of its candidates earned election to the council. Its leaders said they're hoping to land more than 30 members on the council, which would give it a solid voting bloc to pursue its agenda.

A second factor contributing to the increased turnout is that the council's image appears to have improved sub- stantially from a year ago.

At this time last year, the council was reeling from a strife-torn spring in which its vice president was nearly impeached, and then censured and de-censured over three weeks; it was forced to invalidate a referendum it ran because of numerous administrative improprieties; it drew heavy criticism for not heeding a student petition and referendum calling for numerous structural reforms; and a council executive resigned amid impropriety charges after he tape-recorded a telephone conversation with a political rival.

By comparison, the 1994-95 year was relatively scandal-free for the council.

"I think we had a pretty good year last year, and I think that's excited some people to run," said Manisha Bharti '98, a council member who is helping to organize the election.

Reuben Kopeo '98, a first-time candidate for the council in Currier House, pointed to overall improvement and one particular change made last year as being instrumental in his decision to run.