While the students who ran on the Empower ticket celebrated their sweep of the University of Colorado’s student elections this weekend, their rivals on the Veritas ticket say the just-completed campaign has left a bitter taste in their mouths.
Alex Schnell, the CU student government’s election commissioner, confirmed Sunday that he has received “several informal complaints” — but nothing formal yet — charging both tickets with poor candidate behavior.
Will Taylor, Peter Swanson, Allison Foley (Empower)
Carly Robinson (Empower)
Leah Neumann (Empower)
Rodrigo Gonzalez (Empower)
Samuel John (Empower)
Kevin John and Gregory Carlson (Empower)
ASSG Board Members
Carola Belton (Empower)
Corey Parker (Empower)
Danielle Watkins-Green (Empower)
Matthew Reiser (Empower)
Kyle Ludwig (Empower)
UCEC Vice President
Lauren Shapiro (Empower)
Thomas Benning (Empower)
Gregory Kana (Empower)
Jeffrey Emil Lassen (Empower)
While Schnell wouldn’t reveal the nature of the complaints, Hunter Barnett — who ran for president on Veritas’ tri-executive slate — said the members of his ticket are upset about negative campaigning on Facebook and alleged the Empower ticket used other students’ computer log-ins to vote for their candidates.
“This is not over yet,” Barnett said Sunday. “We will file one or two complaints against the Empower ticket because of their inappropriate actions.”
Will Taylor, elected president as part of Empower’s winning tri-executive slate, said his ticket did nothing wrong, but he declined to comment specifically on Veritas’ claims, saying his fellow winning candidates “will act accordingly based on the actions of the Veritas ticket.”
Nearly 6,000 student votes put Empower candidates in 18 of the 26 available positions available on the CU Student Union, Arts & Sciences Student Government and the CU Engineering Council ballots, while the other eight positions, mostly Engineering Council slots, were taken by independents.
Thanks to heavy competition between candidates, election turnout increased over last spring’s 4,602 votes. Because there was no controversial referenda questions, turnout was still down from spring elections held in 2004 through 2008.
Schnell said that while the election lacked controversial referenda, the nearly 3,600 votes to change the name of the CU Student Union to the CU Student Government should address student apathy toward the administration.
“I think it will be more recognizable and help defined the student government,” Schnell said. “There will be visible changes, too, like the logo and more advertising that will help students understand where funding is coming from and what CUSG does.”
Taylor, the newly elected president, said that’s not the only change students can expect in the coming term from the Empower tri-executives, which also include Internal Vice President Peter Swanson and External Vice President Allison Foley.
Increased state funding, student-group funding and tuition flexibility — CU’s push to set its own tuition rates — are top priorities for the Empower tri-executive team and are part of their platform to give students “affordable education,” Taylor said.
“More higher education funding from the state is the higher priority, but it may be that we have to fall back on tuition flexibility because of problems created by tuition increases,” Taylor said. “We would have to look at flexibility with caution, but are willing to work with the state to find a compromise if it comes to that.”
Swanson said budgeting within the student government’s cost centers — such as the University Memorial Center, Recreation Center and Wardenburg Health Center — might be a significant way to decrease student costs overall without sacrificing service.
“The No. 1 thing I’m hoping to accomplish is looking at the cost centers and putting in some green features to reduce costs that way,” Swanson said.
Swanson is focusing on legislation — written by newly elected Representative-at-Large Samuel John — that would give student groups options as to how they can receive funding. The current system includes approaching the Legislative Council once every year to formally request funding. But the new option would allow groups to instead be funded solely by optional student donations.
Foley said her concern is to better represent the student body’s wants and needs. Discussions include a panel that would allow students to approach CUSG with complaints or problems they are having with the administration and its work. Surveys asking where students would most like to see their fees used also are a possibility.
Newly elected Representative-at-Large Carly Robinson said she will work to expand diversity among CUSG members, bringing her views as a graduate student to the mix.
“As far as we know, I’m the first grad student to ever run, let alone win, for CU student government,” Robinson said. “Our entire ticket is so diverse with students from different groups the campus as a whole will be represented well.”