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Fewer Candidates Run for Council

The race for Undergraduate Council positions may be on, but there are far fewer candidates than last year.

This year, 93 students filed petitions declaring intent to run for council representative posts, council President Sujean S. Lee ’03 wrote in an e-mail yesterday. This is a sharp drop-off from last year, when 120 students ran for office.

Voting starts tomorrow and runs through Thursday.

But the size of this year’s overall slate is roughly comparable to those of previous years—90 students ran in 2000 and 82 ran in 1999.

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Several members of the council’s Election Commissions said this year’s decline was partially a result of sophomores who had served as first-year representatives losing interest in the council. But they added that they were unconcerned despite the relative drop.

“I wouldn’t say that it is a significant decline,” said Jessica P. Lau ’04, who sits on the commission. “There’s still lots of competition in many Houses.”

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With the exception of Dudley House, which is allotted one representative, each House is given three seats. First-years are split into four districts each with three seats.

Quincy led all Houses with seven candidates, and 18 students are vying for the chance to represent South Yard first-years. In contrast, only two candidates are running to represent Cabot House.

“In the past couple of years, there have always been a couple of Houses like that,” Lau said of Cabot’s shortage.

Commission members said the lower number of candidates could have been caused by an Aug. 1 letter sent by Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, who implored students to “slow down,” even though the letter was sent only to first-years.

This letter was also sent to the Class of 2005 the summer before they began their first year.

“I think that people have taken the dean’s words to heart,” said Uronna N. Gaillard ’04, another member of the election commission. “This year, I think there’s been a pretty steep decline in all extracurricular activities.”

Alvin R. Rajkomar ’06, a candidate in the South Yard election, echoed Gaillard’s words.

“I think the letter really made you think why you’re running,” he said. “It did affect people’s decisions.”

The decline in the number of interested students is not unique to the council.

The Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) has reported a record shortage of volunteers, and the letter was cited by PBHA members as a potential cause of the shortage.

But some commission members said a shortage of candidates in the Houses will not affect students’ representation on the council.

“Whenever there’s a lack of candidates, Harvard students always rise up,” said commission member Oluseyi A. Fayanju ’05. “I’m certain someone will write themselves in.”

—Staff writer Alexander J. Blenkinsopp can be reached at blenkins@fas.harvard.edu.

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