Deadline extended for Student Body Election applications

By Catie Hall
On January 31, 2014

Thanks to a changed deadline, students scrambling to get petition signatures and applications in for Student Body Elections will get a second chance. 

Originally, those who wanted to run for Student Body President, Student Body Vice President, and University System Student Board Representative (USSBR) had to apply by the first day of classes, Jan. 21. However, Al Pace, student senate speaker and election committee chair, changed the deadline. 

"Petitions are due by January 31," Pace said in an email to the student population on Jan. 23. "Previously, this deadline was set at January 21, but it has been extended due to low response."

According to old reports from The New Hampshire, past application deadlines have been closer to March. Though Pace did not receive complaints from anyone about the Jan. 21 deadline, the process affects even him. 

"The application process isn't really something that I like or dislike, it is simply part of the overall election process," Pace said. "Although, the change in deadline that was made this year has put some stress on the process as a whole."

Student Body Elections are on Feb. 17 and Feb. 18, and they are likely to look different from last year.

"I would expect this election season to be more timid than last year," Pace said. "We had an unprecedented number of candidates last year that made for a more exciting election season."

Last year there were five pairs that ran for student body president and vice president, leading to many conversations around campus about who should win and why. Merrill and McKernan eventually won in a very diverse race.

So what are Bryan Merrill and William McKernan, the Student Body President and Vice President, doing this election? 

Not what you'd expect.

Merrill wants to be on the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees, taking a seat next to the people that decide UNH's future: the governor, appointed members and New Hampshire's four college and university presidents, among others.

"Next year's my senior year," Merrill said, explaining why he won't run for president a second time. "I'm in the Honors program ... I have two capstones or something like that. I have a lot on my plate senior year, a lot of important things. And I would not be able to give the presidency 100 percent. And in my mind, that's totally unfair."

Merrill said that the trustee position he is applying for is "arguably more impactful, but it's not as much of a time commitment" as the presidency, though he did consider running for president again. Since Merrill has connections now, he can continue on with projects he has already started and allow someone new to step up.

"Most people don't realize the importance of it, they don't realize what it does," Merrill said about the trustee position. "President sounds sexier than trustee, but they don't realize the actual impact it has. ... It is considered the most reputable, respectable, impactful and important board in the state. ... It's the upper-level leadership positions in all of New Hampshire."

Without Merrill in the presidential seat, McKernan has made plans of his own. 

McKernan has a summer internship at accounting firm Caron & Bletzer, PLLC. According to student senate bylaws, he cannot run for a presidential-related seat because he will be unavailable to work over the summer. 

Instead, McKernan is running for one of the Student Activity Fee Organization positions, but did not wish to convey the specific position, Merrill said.

With Merrill and McKernan removed from the presidential side of the election, those empty positions beg the question: Who will run in the Student Body Elections?

"The election is valid as long as at least one person runs for each position, but of course it would be great to have many candidates," Pace said. "I would hope that they already know, but these applications are open to all undergraduate students [with some restrictions regarding the number of semesters spent at UNH] and I encourage anyone who is interested to apply."

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