In this year’s senate elections, the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) saw the greatest voter turnout in three years with 24% of students (462) voting in comparison to 20% and 21% over the last two years, respectively. The national average of students voting for private colleges is between 15% and 20%. Results from the ASLC senate election were announced via email on Sept. 25 and are listed in the box adjacent to this article on page three.
Before the ballots were filled, on Sept. 19, ASLC held a senate election forum where candidates voiced their ideas for the current academic year. The forum was moderated by Pioneer Log Editor-in-Chief Hanna Merzbach ’20 and Managing Editor Nicholas Nerli ’21. Candidates discussed issues like insufficient transportation and lack of mental and sexual health resources.
Cas Mulford ’23, a newly-elected senator, focused on expanding access to resources, particularly for lower income students at LC.
He is interested in creating an avenue of communication that would consolidate information and be easily distributed to students.
“One thing I’ve been thinking about (is) the best way to get information to people who are lower income,” Mulford said. “Some students (at another unspecified school) had started a newsletter with information about how to manage working while going to school, different scholarship opportunities and other information that would pertain to low-income students.”
Candidates also mentioned ideas like offering free STD testing, menstrual products in more bathrooms and building curriculum about mental and sexual health into Pioneer Success Institute (PSI).
Caroline Arnis ’22 hopes to improve the accessibility to healthcare for students.
“(It is important to) have an open dialogue and an open narrative,” Arnis said. “I think that taking time to address the most relevant things in PSI would be a good idea to get a scope of what people find the most helpful in terms of sexual consent.”
Another issue that was brought up at the forum was sustainability. Several candidates discussed that LC markets itself as an environmentally-friendly campus but has several contradictory practices.
Alex Webb ’22 is interested in looking into improving the Pioneer Express (the Pio) by expanding its route and making it more sustainable as well as continuing to work on funding sustainability projects.
“I want to look into ways the Pio can be more sustainable like not leaving its engine on while it is waiting for students,” Webb said.
At their first meeting on Sept. 26, ASLC swore in the new senators and continued to discuss projects that they hope to tackle this year such as creating a campus-wide communication platform, increasing the amount of stops the Pio makes and providing more literacy about public transportation options to students.
The senate also addressed electing a new ASLC vice president. Since the vice president that was elected during the Spring 2019 semester withdrew from the college over the summer, Tom Stratton ’20 has been acting as interim vice president.
“At the beginning of the first meeting of the senate, that interim position expires, and then it goes to the typical special election process where candidates can reapply … and senate then votes on it,” ASLC President Helen Hitz ’21 said.
During the Sept. 26 meeting, the senators postponed electing a vice president since only one candidate, Stratton, was in the race. The two other possible candidates withdrew prior to the meeting.
The vice president is typically required to serve two semesters on senate, however under this circumstance, ASLC decided to open up the race to those who had only served one semester.
“We’re reaching out to a wider applicant pool and also planning to publicize it more because we realized that this was something that nobody really knew was happening,” Hitz said. “We’re also conducting an audit on the situation, because we realized that we were not very transparent in this process and we would like to be more transparent.”
At their Oct. 3 meeting, ASLC voted between Stratton, Jacob Muscarella ’21 (who serves on The Pioneer Log’s editorial board) and Kenneth Leja ’21 for vice president. Muscarella was ultimately elected.