HUSC Election Efforts

Campaigning and voting for Hamline’s student council have changed in response to the pandemic.

Nicole Ronchetti

To face the organizing challenges created by the pandemic, HUSC has changed its election process to both align with COVID-19 safety measures and accommodate some of the resulting difficulties that potential candidates might encounter.

Now entirely virtual, information about the upcoming election has been shared primarily through email and HUSC’s social media accounts, letting students know when the process began and how to get involved.

Hamline students interested in running for an elected position had to complete their application electronically, including the portion requiring candidates running for president and vice president to collect signatures from their peers showing their support.

This portion of the process had the most significant change made to it this year. Previously, candidate teams were expected to gather 50 signatures, but the number has been reduced to 15 signatures collected on a google form to help students meet their goal without in person campaigning.

“In the past, students have been able to walk around campus and talk to students about their platform,” said Raina Meyer, a sophomore and HUSC’s Political Action Chair. 

One of the considerations that led to this requirement being decreased was the concern that it would be harder to raise awareness and engage with other students in a virtual setting.

“We decreased the amount of signatures, just because we figured it would be a lot harder to get people to sign online,” said Cecelia Miller, junior and vice-president of HUSC.

Miller explained that because so much of life has been forced to move online, it can be difficult for students to keep track of everything that comes through their email, including important information around student elections.

“Most people are just so overwhelmed with the number of emails and social media that are being pushed, so it’s really hard to get outside participation and opinions from different groups of students,” Miller said. “It’s so easy now to just not read an email.”

Because of this, both HUSC and any potential candidates have to adapt to the new version of campaigning and sharing information, including the strengths and weaknesses of online communication.

“The campaigning aspect of everything is going to be a lot more challenging,” said Kaia Zeigler, a junior and president of HUSC. “People are going to have to do a lot more targeted outreach.”

HUSC has been working on different strategies to help address this problem, primarily through virtual events and social media, though emails will remain an important part.

Among them are two presidential debates where the candidate teams can answer questions from students and explain their platforms. The events, the final of which will be held on Feb 23, will be recorded and later posted for easy access.

The voting itself will take place over two days beginning on March 2, and like in previous years will be done online with a link sent out through email. Along with the elections for HUSC positions, there will also be a constitutional amendment under consideration that changes the leading roles of HUSC to the internal and external president. 

“It’s really important to be involved in this election,” Meyer said. “Make sure you keep an eye out for HUSC related emails.”