Going into the spring 2019 semester with two vacancies on the senate, the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) held a special election on Jan. 31. Out of the three candidates, Nick Gothard ’22, Elsa Spaulding ’22 and Zack Johnson ’19, Gothard and Spaulding were elected to represent Lewis & Clark students on the ASLC senate.
In contrast to the school-wide elections held in the fall, spring elections are less publicized because there are fewer vacancies. Director of Elections Mary-Claire Spurgin ’21 said that while the processes for both fall and spring elections differ, student representation is still taken into account through the participation of their elected senators.
“The mid-year elections happen when we have a vacancy in the senate … we had two last week when two of our senators had to resign for different reasons,” Spurgin said. “The way those work, instead of a ballot going out to the whole school, just the current sitting members of senate are able to vote. We think that’s a fair process because they were elected to represent the student body, so it’s not like the students have no say at all in the process. It’s more cost effective as well as elections are more costly to put on in terms of money and time.”
After the students apply and submit a candidate statement, the candidates are invited to an ASLC meeting where they introduce themselves shortly and then answer questions from the cabinet, senate and student group representatives. Afterwards, the candidates step out of the room for deliberation among the senate. Spaulding, who had covered the ASLC for the Pioneer Log this past fall, said that the ASLC asked rather difficult questions compared to the ones that students asked at the Senate Debate.
“It’s definitely a little intimidating,” Spaulding said. “I felt a little nervous both when I came in and out of the meeting, but I have been working with a lot of people in ASLC at this point, so I think that I was maybe a little more comfortable than my other candidates by virtue of my experience with the organization but it definitely felt like there were higher stakes because I was trying to appeal to ASLC opposed to kids in the entire school.”
After the deliberation took place, the results were announced to the candidates. Gothard said that since he was elected, one of his primary focuses would be on transparency issues related to the Board of Trustees and ASLC.
“I’m still working to understand new and current issues for the student body to address in the senate, I chose disconnect between the Board of Trustees and ASLC and ASLC and students to sort of be my focus because I think that if you bridge those gaps you’re going to solve a lot of other problems so much easier because information just flows,” Gothard said.
Senator Nicole Dean ’21 said that while she was excited for both Spaulding and Gothard’s future contribution to ASLC, she was surprised that Johnson was not elected.
“What I found interesting was that both of the freshmen were elected and the majority of the senate is made up of freshmen and we actually have no seniors at all on senate and Zack (Johnson) was a senior who was running, with lots of experience,” Dean said. “He’s been a senator before. He was actually Vice President last year. I was kind of surprised that Zack didn’t get elected.”
Johnson, who was first elected to senate his sophomore year, had served on various committees, was appointed the first Diversity Committee Chair and had served as Vice President. He said he was familiar with the election process but wished that more substantial questions had been asked.
“The questions were limited, focusing upon broad subjects and proposed future plans but never really investigating each of the candidates individually,” Johnson said via email.
Despite not being elected, Johnson mentioned that he was excited for both Spaulding and Gothard and expects that their experiences with ASLC will be positive ones.
“Though I’m disappointed I wasn’t elected back onto the Senate, I’m confident Elsa and Nick will be wonderful additions to ASLC,” Johnson said. “I hope ASLC provides them with the same welcoming and thought-provoking atmosphere it did for me.”