In last week’s voting for the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA), Emily Polak ’05 was elected president for the 2004-2005 academic year. The election also produced Jeremy Abrams ’05 as the future vice president. Representatives for each class were also determined in the weeklong ballot vote.
Polak and Karen Courtheoux ’05, the two front-running candidates for the presidency, ran a close race. Polak finished with 523 votes and Courtheoux with 417.
“The whole thing was a little bit of a surprise,” Polak said. “I thought that the election results were going to be incredibly close.”
Abrams said he felt that the nature of the candidates accounted for this year’s unusually close election.
“We had two 100 percent qualified candidates,” he said.
One thousand and thirty-one people voted in the general elections, which constitutes over one-third of the student body. Elaine Garven ’05, who was elected as a senior class representative, said that the voter turnout was satisfactory.
“There weren’t so many candidates this year,” she said. “People didn’t care as much because it wasn’t an exciting election.”
Sohana Punithakumar ’04, the current WSA president, said that she has worked closely with both Polak and Courtheoux through their prior WSA experience.
“I plan on teaching Emily everything that I’ve learned this year,” she said.
Polak said that a main concern for her is to incorporate student voices into the WSA and the decision-making process.
“It’s essential that students aren’t just informed of changes and decisions once they have already been made and are scheduled to occur,” Polak said.
She said that the decisions to build the Fauver Field dorms occurred more or less in this fashion, with no consultation of students.
Some of her specific goals for next year include ensuring funding for the 200 Church Street anti-oppression center and enacting the proposed changes to the safety shuttle route. Polak also said she will hold Aramark to a promise to reopen the Campus Center on weekends, which it made during a Dining Committee meeting.
Polak said that she is not optimistic about passing a chalk resolution.
“I am optimistic in the sense that if there’s a culture of chalking then that’s almost just as good as having the ban reversed,” she said.
Abrams ran unopposed for the vice presidency, and finished with 588 votes.
“I felt great about running unopposed,” he said. “I think it just worked out in terms of the people who are abroad. We have some really good freshmen, but not a lot of sophomores. There just weren’t a lot of options.”
Polak said that she looks forward to working with Abrams.
“I think Jeremy is going to work extremely hard,” she said. “He wants to make the vice presidency more of a role than it’s been in the past.”
Punithakumar sent out e-mail on Friday night at 9 p.m., three hours before the elections closed, in which she officially endorsed Courtheoux.
“It was the last few hours and our e-mails asking students to vote hadn’t gone out because of some glitch,” she said. “I just wanted to encourage people to vote.”
Punithakumar said she started officially endorsing Courtheoux on Thursday evening because she felt that, based on her work with both candidates, Courtheoux was in a better position for the presidency. She emphasized, however, that she is looking forward to passing her experience on to Polak.
The elections for class representatives, which are supposed to elect five candidates for each class, yielded only four representatives for the classes of 2005 and 2006.
For the Class of 2005, all four official candidates, Nathan Victoria, Ali Gomer, Elaine Garven and Jess McIntosh won. Since write-ins must receive at least ten votes to win, no write-ins were elected to the fifth position. Garven said that this is not likely to inhibit the representatives’ position of influence next year.
The Class of 2006 elected all three official candidates, Francisco Carreno, Daniel Rubin and Eric Sullivan, as well as write-in Dan Matzin, who received 12 votes.
The Class of 2007, the only class to elect five representatives, had 13 official candidates running. Arijit Sen, Nora Connor, Danielle Krudy, Evan Simko-Bednarski and Zach Kolodin won.
Connor said that she feels her class is particularly engaged with the WSA.
“People seem to say that the freshman class always gets a lot of people running,” she said. “But I think we’ll keep having that many people running.”
Polak and Abrams agreed that the WSA will be in a good position next year to enact substantive changes.
“I think the WSA has basically grown exponentially in terms of strength over the last few years,” Abrams said. “A lot of our committees have been growing and trying to find their place. I think they’ve found it now, and are in a good place to really start working and making change.”
According to Polak, the WSA has been working intimately with the Administration this year, which bodes well for similar efforts to take place next year.