The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday June 10th

Senior status issues continue: Students awarded senior status by credit hours faced voting problems

Problems surrounding “senior status” are continuing to mount.

Some juniors who have completed 90 or more credit hours discovered Tuesday that they were unable to cast votes for senior class presidents because they are classified as seniors by ConnectCarolina.

That came just two weeks after some seniors found they would not receive student tickets to the UNC-Duke basketball game because they unintentionally benefited from their senior status the year before.

Shruthi Sundaram, chairwoman of the Board of Elections, said students are to blame for not updating their class statuses on ConnectCarolina or through the registrar’s office.

But students said they had not been informed that this would be a problem.

“I didn’t get any notifications or emails like we did for the Duke game that having senior status would affect voting,” said Sara Hansen, a junior with senior status.

Before the ticket lottery, the UNC ticket office sent an email to students with senior status with instructions on how to opt out.

Sundaram said the Board of Elections did not send out notifications because members were unaware of how many juniors were classified as seniors.

Chris Derickson, assistant provost and University registrar, said in an email that the student voting interface did not originally rely on credit hours.

“When it was originally designed, the decision was made to use terms in residence to determine class level for voting,” he said.

Sundaram said she is working with Information Technology Services to tweak the voting system in time for runoff elections Feb. 21.

Changes will include a different way of classifying students’ course years, she said.

But Sundaram said juniors with senior status could still have found a way to make their voices heard.

“They may not have been able to vote online, but students could have emailed their votes to the Board of Elections,” Sundaram said. “We kept a tally of who emailed votes and included those numbers in the final tally.”

Candidate pairs Adam Jutha and Sarah Kaminer and Nora Chan and Tim Palmer moved on to the runoff election.

A total of 1,465 votes were cast in this year’s senior class election, compared to 1,780 in 2011.

Although Sundaram said she did not think this glitch affected the end result, juniors classified as seniors said they were frustrated with their inability to vote.

After Nicole Pradel, a junior with senior status, found herself unable to vote for senior class president, she emailed the Board of Elections from both her school and personal email accounts — only to get a notification that the board’s inbox was full, she said.

“I really don’t think it’s fair that they’re going to move on to a runoff and a lot of current juniors weren’t able to vote,” Pradel said.

“It’s not very representative of the people who should have a voice in this matter,” she said. “Why should I be punished because I have too many credit hours?”

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