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UNC Student Government holds first senate elections by major

Graeme Strickland ran as a write-in candidate for a student senate seat, and won. Photo courtesy of Strickland.

UNC’s Undergraduate Senate welcomed 26 new senators following Tuesday’s election. 

Katharine Shriver, speaker of the Undergraduate Senate, said this year’s election was a huge success in general. Students showed more interest in the elections than in the past — more students voted in this election than ever before. The number of candidates was higher than usual as a result of the recent redistricting, which allowed for the election of such a large number of new senators. 

The old system divided districts by residence hall, which meant that students living off campus lacked representation. The new system divides districts by major, such as District 3, which includes all social science majors. Shriver hopes that this change will provide more diversity and better student representation in student senate. 

“Residential was successful in the past, but recently we felt that it didn’t create enough diversity in senate because a lot of individuals live off campus,” Shriver said. “When you live with someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the same views as them, that you have a lot in common or that you can speak to their views – it just happens that you live right beside each other and you got into that dorm.” 

Shriver said that by districting based on majors senators will be able to better represent their constituents. Students typically have more in common with others in their major than with others living in their residence hall, so this redistricting allows senators to represent student populations that they relate to more closely.

“You take classes with those people, so you interact with them more, so you’re able to build a better relationship and connection with your constituency, which is a really big point for senate,” she said.

The new senators have big plans for their time in office. 

Graeme Strickland, who ran as a write-in candidate, is excited that students from majors outside of political science and public policy majors, which traditionally dominated the senate, will have a chance for their voice to be heard. He said during his time as senator that he hopes to provide more justice for victims of sexual assault. 

Overall, members of UNC’s student senate are excited to see what the future holds. 

“We have a more diverse group of people that will be able to better represent Carolina as a whole than we were before,” Shriver said.

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