Shuffling through paperwork and wading through election regulations, 14 hopefuls for the hotly-contested Undergraduate Council presidential and vice-presidential elections officially declared their candidacies at an election commission meeting late last night.
Although campaigning cannot officially begin until next Monday, the candidates already see themselves as aligned with segments of the student body.
Council Treasurer Beth A. Stewart '00 and council Campus Live Committee Co-Chair Samuel C. Cohen '00, running for president and vice-president respectively, represent reform of the council's focus, Stewart said.
"I think the conflict is between those who think the purpose of the U.C. is to pursue a political agenda and those who think it is to pursue student interests," Stewart said.
"I think that [the election] is very much about the legacy of Rob and Lamelle versus a change of the focus of the council to a much more non-political view," Stewart added, referring to former and current council presidents Robert M. Hyman '98 and Lamelle D. Rawlins '99.
Hyman was the first popularly elected council president, and Rawlins was his vice president before being elected president last December.
The council under Rawlins has followed a three-year trend toward increased political activism in the council and has tackled issues large and small, including the moral rectitude of the protests against Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Core Curriculum reform, shuttle service and the controversy over grapes in Harvard dining halls.
Stewart and Cohen say that they aim to depoliticize the council.
Benjamin W. Hulse '99, also a candidate for president, says that these political issues do deserve consideration by the council.
Although Hulse originally gathered signatures for a vice-presidential candidacy, he changed his mind at the last minute and submitted a petition for the presidency, choosing as his running mate council Secretary Olivia Verma '99-'00.
Hulse says that the various candidates need to come to an understanding about their stance on particular issues.
"Beth and [presidential candidate Jobe G. Danganan '99] and I are all very good friends," Hulse said. "People shouldn't expect to see the animosity that characterized last year's election."
Since many of the candidates will have similar platforms, for example emphasizing student services as a priority, Hulse says that it is unclear which student groups will endorse particular candidates.
"We are, I think, like the other candidates, going to talk to the biggest groups on campus," Hulse said.
Her endorsement by groups such as Few candidates have staked out positions as politically liberal as Rawlins'. A possible exception is Co-Chair of the Faculty Diversity Task Force Kamil E. Redmond '00, who will run as vice-president on a ticket with Danganan. She has previously voiced support for a number of liberal causes on campus such as adding transgenderism to the University's non-discrimination policy.
Few candidates have staked out positions as politically liberal as Rawlins'. A possible exception is Co-Chair of the Faculty Diversity Task Force Kamil E. Redmond '00, who will run as vice-president on a ticket with Danganan. She has previously voiced support for a number of liberal causes on campus such as adding transgenderism to the University's non-discrimination policy.