The NYU Abu Dhabi Student Government, now in its fourth election cycle, has effected various changes this semester, from shifts in its executive board to the way candidates participated in this year's open forum that took place across NYU's global network on Nov. 24.
For the first time since the formation of Student Government, one position may remain vacant. The officer of student activities position, formerly known as the alternate senator, received zero applications. Freshman Quan Vuong, chair of the elections board for this election, indicated that the current officer of student affairs may remain in their position until next semester, when the position will be voted for, alongside the junior class representative.
The number of candidates running was also low: No other position saw more than two candidates, and the position for officer of external affairs received just one candidate.
This semester also marks the first time that the names of three positions were revised from their original form. On Nov. 10
, senator was renamed officer of external affairs, alternate senator was renamed officer of student activities and secretary was renamed communications officer. Students also developed their candidacy from abroad for the first time. Seniors Juan Felipe Beltrán and Brett Bolton along with juniors Benjamin Jance IV and Alex Nykos participated in the forum from New York and London via Skype.
Senior and current President Leah Reynolds said she was surprised and disappointed by the low number of applications.
“I would hope that it’s a reflection of the fact that students feel there are other ways that they’re getting involved and getting their voices heard and that the executive board is just ... a facilitator for that,” Reynolds said.
She added that she hopes Student Government can, in the future, explore ways for it to be promoted, whether through counting a term in office as an internship or having some of the responsibilities of each position delegated to other committees.
For some students, this election cycle was a quiet one. Some students said that the application deadlines and the dates of the candidate forum and the election were not very visible. Freshman Eduardo Campillo attended the candidates’ forum for the first time and, up until the forum, did not know the date of the election.
“I feel like it could have been a bit better. I thought it was a bit abrupt,” Campillo said. “I think [the date of the election] should have been announced more intensively.”
Sophomore Daniel Mountcastle said he saw few posts in the NYUAD Student Life Facebook group about election cycle deadlines and dates and hopes that other communication channels between students and their government are explored in the future.
“I think, as many people saw in the forum, communication from the Student Government to [the] student body is one of the major issues they’re facing,” Mountcastle said, referring to candidates’ positions on how to improve this relationship. “And each of the candidates did have creative solutions to solve that.”
Overseas at Washington Square, some candidates faced difficulty in obtaining information regarding the election.
“My biggest challenge was when the executive board was handling it,” said senior Brett Bolton, a candidate for vice presidency and the former 2012 class president. “The communication felt very disconnected. There was almost no flow [of information] into New York. Most students had no idea what was going on. [It] took a lot of digging and a lot of questioning for me to figure out there was an election cycle and when those elections were going to be.”
However, Bolton added that when the election board took over, information became substantially more transparent.
Reynolds was pleased with the outreach to students.
“I’ve gotten emails and seen posts on Facebook and [have] seen multiple physical posters up,” Reynolds said. “I would say that if it’s true that people don't know what’s going on, it’s probably either due to overabundance of [extraneous] information or that there’s some other mysterious channel of information that people are using.”
In addition to changes in the number of candidates, a constitutional amendment was passed
on Sept. 17 that changed the election cycle for the executive board from the calendar year to the academic year.
Voting began online at midnight on Nov. 24. The elections board will announce the results of the election via the NYUAD Student Life Facebook page at midnight on Nov. 26.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly named a position that had been changed. The alternate senator position was renamed officer of student activities, not officer of student affairs.
Alistair Blacklock contributed reporting. Andres Rodriguez is opinion editor. Kristina Bogos is managing editor. Email them at email@example.com.