The Tufts Elections Commission (ECOM) hosted a candidates’ forum last night in Braker 001 to provide a space for open discussion for the four candidates running for positions on the Committee on Student Life (CSL), Class of 2020 Senator seats and one First-Generation (First Gen) Community Representative Senate Seats.
The official list of candidates for this special election, according to ECOM, is as follows: Sophomores Alexa Weinstein and Daniel Cashman are running uncontested for two vacant Class of 2020 Senator seats, which previously had been Class of 2019 seats. First-year Alejandro Baez is running uncontested for one First Gen Community Senator seat, as his former contestant, Erick Martinez Camacho, also a first-year, dropped from the race. First-year Ayden Crosby is also running unopposed for one open seat on the CSL.
ECOM members, along with sophomore Ethan Mandelbaum, who presided over the event as ECOM Chair, asked the candidates questions on their candidacy, their platform and the objectives they hope to achieve.
The candidates gave differing reasons for their decision to run, though all expressed an interest in advocating on behalf of students.
Crosby said that while he does not have a detailed platform due to the nature of the CSL’s work, he hopes to facilitate communication between the students and the university while upholding the university’s core values.
“I am running for the [CSL], mostly because I am just interested in getting more involved on campus, and I am looking forward to liaising the faculty and helping make decisions that will impact student life in general,” Crosby said in his platform.
Cashman also said he hopes to get more involved on campus as a senator and plans to work on behalf of students’ needs.
“I think the Senate is a good way to [get more involved.] I also hear my classmates’ opinions and problems they have with the university,” Cashman, a sophomore, said. “I am trying to fight for them.”
Baez said that he noticed a trend of difficulty in adjusting to college life among his first-gen student peers, and that he hopes to educate the Tufts community on their experiences.
“I am running because I personally identify as a first-generation college student,” Baez, a first-year, said. “My transition to college has been rather difficult and, noticing this trend in my peers, I wanted to help [them] by implementing new initiatives and educating people about the struggles of the first-generation students. My platform consists of [promoting] awareness, visibility and mental health regarding first-generation students.”
Baez added that his goal is to “level the field for every student.”
“First-generation students, a lot of us can’t afford textbooks, can’t afford winter gear and the faculty doesn’t know about our personal struggles,” Baez said. “All this [often leads] to mental health problems, disparities on campus. I just want to find solutions to each and every one of them, such as making a winter gear fund, educating faculty, et cetera.”
Weinstein said that she hopes to bring more transparency to Senate and to make sure that Senate hears as many voices as possible in making decisions.
“I am running because I think there needs to be more transparency with Senate and the student body, and having voices heard more,” Weinstein said. “The Senate has a lot of power, but [if] the students aren’t getting what they want out of it, then what good is it? So being able to interact with both sides more [is my goal.]”
In particular, Weinstein said that Senate does meaningful things on campus, citing the recent passage of the resolution calling for the university to extend pass-fail deadline which passed a faculty vote. She said, however, that Senate could have done a better job in terms of outreach, saying that many students did not know about the resolution.
She added that she is interested in starting an online forum on Facebook class pages to get a better sense of students’ needs and gather more opinions.
“I think it would be really interesting to have a forum be posted on Facebook pages, because a lot of people are active on the [Tufts Class of 2020] page, where students can actually voice what they want to see,” she said. “I know all the Senators are transparent and they are always open to messages … but sometimes it’s easier to have an anonymous submission that is there 24/7.”
The special election will be held on Feb. 21. Mandelbaum said that the students will have a full day to vote online on their electronic devices, or at a voting booth in Mayer Campus Center. He explained that the voting will take place using Voatz again.
Mandelbaum said the sign-in issues from last semester would be resolved.
“Last semester, you could sign-in to Voatz and vote more than once, because there wasn’t any verification, but this semester we are going to have a verification system,” Mandelbaum said. “[ECOM] is going to send an email to every student, and [the students] are going to have a unique code … and use that to vote.”