By: Angel Zhong
Like every other aspect of campus life, the Associated Students of the University of the Pacific (ASuop) Elections have had to undergo a significant and unprecedented transition this year to an entirely remote, virtual format. In the past, candidates’ flyers and faces were, by this time of the year, a familiar sight at many of Pacific’s social hotspots—the DeRosa University Center, the McCaffrey Center, etc. Many current students can likely recall listening to the ASuop Presidential and Vice Presidential debate while enjoying a meal with friends in the Lair.
Outreach has been a particular challenge for both candidates and election officials. Social media is both expansive and limiting as a primary campaign platform. On one hand, it enables a single Instagram post or story to be ostensibly seen and interacted with by potentially hundreds of prospective constituents in a relatively short period of time; on the other, its scope is generally restricted to people already familiar to oneself. Scout Cooper-Wilson, Critical and Cultural Studies and Economics, ‘22, an ASuop presidential hopeful, has experienced this.
“Online we can’t reach the people that we don’t already know,” she said. “Because when you’re on campus you’re able to run into strangers you know at the UC or the library or something like that, but online you can’t. That’s just not how the internet works. You can’t find people you’re not looking for.”
This sentiment is echoed by fellow presidential candidate Reese Romero, Music Performance - Horn, ‘23, as well as Jasmin Arenal, Sociology, ‘21, the Elections coordinator.
“Last year, we were actually able to host the events in person, and it kind of gives that more personal kind of connection,” Arenal said. “So I think that maybe, just like on a personal level, getting to know the candidates and things like that wasn't as intimate as it could have been if we were in person.”
“The biggest challenge that I know is just getting people involved and engaged,” stated Romero. “And making sure that people know what's happening, that people are aware of voting, or even if they know the elections are happening.”
Nevertheless, both the Elections organizers and the candidates have invested considerable time, energy, and creativity into overcoming this hurdle, and their substantial efforts have produced fruitful results. Though turnout to recent Elections’ events—such as the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debate and the Senator Town Hall—did not fully match last year’s, students did attend and exhibit active interest in and engagement with their future representatives despite the present era of Zoom fatigue. Arenal attributes this to the dedication and enthusiasm of the candidates.
“It really has been the candidates and other Pacific students that have pushed this [election] forward, I would say,” shared Arenal.
Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, both presidential tickets have aspirations of building a more robust Pacific community through their roles in ASuop. Areesh Ilyas, Political Science and Computer Science, ‘22, Romero’s running mate, aims to strengthen the link between ASuop and the broader Pacific student population.
“What I’m familiar with is ASuop’s relationship with the student body, because I’ve been in that student body for the past three years,” she said. “So that’s the dynamic; Reese’s focus is on the internal structure and making sure it’s open to the student body, and I want to foster further relationships and enhance [ASuop’s] relationship with the student body.”
Similarly, Tierra Smithson, Political Science, ‘22, Cooper-Wilson’s running mate, wishes to cultivate more individualized, personal connections between ASuop officers and their constituents through the implementation of programs such as an ASuop book club and coffee talks that would be open to all students.
Regardless of the Elections’ outcomes, ASuop is an organization that is driven by the motto “students serving students.” Besides voting, be sure to assert your voice by attending or watching Senate meetings, going to ASuop office hours, and reaching out to your representatives.
Here is a quick look at this year’s ballot:
President and Vice President:
Ticket One: Scout Wilson, Tierra Smithson
Ticket Two: Reese Romero, Areesh Ilyas
Candidates for schools/colleges:
Mah Noor, School of Engineering and Computer Science
Madeline Brown, School of International Studies
Jane Hwang, College of the Pacific
Ana Jimenez, College of the Pacific
Emily Winsatt, Conservatory of Music
Mario Di Santi, Eberhardt School of Business
Heather Greenup, Graduate School
Serena Young, Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health
Senator at Large: