The Student Senate Executive Committee voted to push back the 2020 election and extend the voting period in response to the University of Kansas moving all classes online due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The election will now take place April 19 to 25. Before the committee voted to change the date Monday night in a Skype meeting, the Student Senate Elections Commission planned to move forward with the original date for the election, which was April 15 to 16.
Though Elections Commission Chair Wyatt Risovi-Hendrickson said he would have preferred to have the election take place earlier in the semester, he said the change is manageable for the commission.
“It’s a lot better outcome than when they were originally discussing moving it to the fall,” Risovi-Hendrickson said in an interview with the Kansan following the meeting. “It’s workable. We’re going to do our part to make sure that elections run smoothly.”
Student Senate Chief of Staff Zach Thomason, who advocated for moving the election to next fall and appointing interim executive staff members, said he is satisfied with the result.
“I think this is a compromise between different perspectives,” Thomason said in an interview with the Kansan following the meeting. “This allows for elections to still occur, this allows for more students to vote and it allows for a few extra days to get all of the necessary components and moving parts in order.”
Thomason said he will draft a proposal for the change and send it to the senate mailing list before it goes into full effect.
The Free Staters coalition met Sunday to discuss potential platform ideas. Some ideas included reinstituting the Safe Walk Program, continuing KU's airport shuttle program and giving old blenders from The Roasterie to the rec center for smoothies.
Free Staters, led by presidential candidate Apramay Mishra and running mate Grant Daily, is the only coalition running in the election.
Mishra said he is optimistic about the extra time the change will give for his coalition.
“I think the only impact it can have is positive because we’ll just have more time in order to build our slate,” Mishra said in an interview with the Kansan following the meeting. “The only thing it can do is help us because it’s giving us more time to make sure that we’re able to thoroughly vet our senatorial candidates as well as reach out to more groups on campus.”
After coming to a consensus on the election, the executive committee will discuss how to address executive staff turnover. Currently, executive staff must turn over their positions to the newly-elected administration by April 27. Due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, Thomason said this will not be enough time.
“[Turnover] is something that is often underappreciated,” Thomason said. “Today, I saw firsthand that even people who engage with that process don’t necessarily always realize how much goes into it because there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work.”
In the past, Student Senate has held a Joint Senate meeting — the last senate meeting of the year — in which the newly elected coalition can introduce its appointed executive staff members.
The committee will reconvene to discuss how to address turnover later this week.