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Four Tickets to Run in UC Presidential Election

Weekly UC Meeting
Undergraduate Council President Catherine L. Zhang '19 and Vice President Nicholas D. Boucher '19 attend a meeting of the Council in Harvard Hall in 2018.

Four tickets will compete for the Undergraduate Council’s presidency and vice presidency in the student body’s 2018 election in November, according to the UC Election Commission.

Two of this year’s tickets are composed of UC veterans. Treasurer Nadine M. Khoury ’20 is running alongside Arnav Agrawal ’20, chair of the Council’s Student Life Committee, while Education Committee Chair Sruthi Palaniappan ’20 is running with Lowell House Representative Julia M. Huesa ’20. On the flip side, the other two tickets are composed entirely of non-UC members: Currier House resident Daniel K. Ragheb ’20 and Lowell House resident Samyra C. Miller ’21 are vying for Council leadership, as are Leverett House resident John T. Ball ’20 and Dunster House resident Sabrina Wu ’20.

Prospective candidates needed to gather 150 signatures from fellow students by Monday evening to appear on the ballot. Voting for this year’s UC president and vice president will run from Monday, Nov. 12 to Thursday, Nov. 15.

Three tickets ran for the Undergraduate Council’s top jobs last year, while four pairs competed in 2016.

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UC Vice President Nicholas D. Boucher ’19 said in an interview Monday evening that he hopes for a “fruitful” and “healthy” campaign.

“I think when we allow an election to be focused on the issues and the beliefs of the candidates, we end up having the best discussions, the best debate, and ultimately arrive at the best candidates,” Boucher said.

In keeping with tradition, Boucher and UC President Catherine L. Zhang ’19 said they do not plan to endorse a candidate in the race.

Recent UC presidential elections have experienced declining voter turnout, including a record-low 2,074 ballots cast in last fall’s election. Last year’s lower turnout, representing less than one-third of College undergraduates, was likely caused at least in part by issues with the voting software. In January, the Council debuted new election software — created by an external organization called OrgSync — in order to prevent similar problems in the future.

Although candidates are not permitted to speak to the media on-the-record until the campaign officially kicks off next Wednesday, posts on social media asking for petition signatures provide a window into their possible pitches come campaigning period.

Palaniappan wrote on Facebook that her ticket would focus on “centering” the voices of undergraduates in their campaign. If elected, she pledged to work to make campus “more inclusive.”

Khoury touted her and Agrawal’s experience on the Council, saying they had helped increase funding to student groups and convinced the administration to provide free menstrual hygiene products, among other achievements.

Ragheb pointed to what he called a lack of mental health “support” and a need for stronger sexual assault prevention, education, and response as the main reasons he jumped into the race.

Ball wrote on Facebook he planned to push the University to fund improvements to campus facilities, especially for the College’s Women’s Center and peer counseling services, which are currently housed in basements that he claims are suffering from mold problems.

Two of this year’s presidential tickets are composed of non-UC members, the first time since at least 2007 that so many outsiders are throwing their hats into the ring. Council outsiders have historically fared poorly running for the UC leadership. The only time a non-UC member has been elected president or vice president of the Council was in November 2013, when Samuel B. Clark ’15 and Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15 won on a joke ticket promising to make tomato basil ravioli soup available at all meals.

—Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at jonah.berger@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonahberger98.

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