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Another year, another SBP election: here's what to expect

2017 student body president candidates Maurice Grier (left) and Elizabeth Adkins respond to questions asked by leaders of the Greek Organizations IFC, GAC, NPHC, and the PHC.

As Elizabeth Adkins’ year in office approaches its conclusion, a new student government election cycle, bolstered by rules changes and new regulations, will begin here in Chapel Hill. 

Last year’s split of the student government into undergraduate and graduate bodies brought logistical changes to the voting. Now, students will vote initially on a student body presidential candidate, who can be either an undergraduate or graduate student. The winner will serve as the president of both the groups of students, and the losing group will have a second election to find their president.

The student body president will preside over the Joint Governance Council, a body created last year to hear the issues that pertain to both student bodies. Additionally, the student body president will have a seat at the Board of Trustees, where they can make the board aware of the student body’s concerns. 

The election will take place on from 12 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Feb. 13, with petition signatures due Feb. 6. The student body president will be elected by instant-runoff voting, meaning voters will rank their preferences, according to the University's Constitution. 

"Each first preference shall count as one vote. The candidate who holds the fewest first preferences is eliminated, and ballots assigned to the eliminated candidates are recounted and assigned to one of the remaining candidates based on the preference of each ballot," the Constitution says. 

Student body president will not be the only position on the ballot on Feb. 13. Carolina Athletic Association president, Resident Hall Association president, senior class president, senior class vice president and all seats in Undergraduate Senate will be positions listed on voting day.

There are two candidates declared in the SBP election: Garima Tomar and Savannah Putnam.

Garima Tomar is a junior majoring in math and chemistry, and was on Joe Nail’s campaign for president in 2017. She is running on a student-first platform, and is critical of what she calls the self-serving nature of student government in the past.

Savannah Putnam, also a junior, is studying political science and communications. She has elevated mental health awareness to the forefront of her platform and wants to prioritize the needs of first-generation students.