Over past decade, Greek system candidates dominated ASUC presidential elections

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If you want to be ASUC president, join the Greek system.

Nine of the last 10 presidential winners of the ASUC general elections came from social fraternities and sororities, while the other was endorsed by the president of a Greek council. This year, the presidential candidates from the strongest student political parties are both in fraternities — a rare occurrence.

Student Action candidate Connor Landgraf is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and CalSERVE candidate Andrew Albright is a member of Sigma Epsilon Omega, a gay fraternity. Other presidential candidates also have connections to the Greek community.

Landgraf and Albright said they want to represent the entire campus, not just the Greek community.

Still, that community can help mobilize large groups of students and advertise individual campaigns or party slates.

In a previous interview, Landgraf said “the Greek community will be very important” for the election. All four executives slated for Student Action this year are in the Greek system.

When asked about the role of the Greek system in campaigning, Landgraf reiterated his party’s mantra — that it aims to represent “every student, every year.” He said most Greek-affiliated Student Action candidates also represent other communities.

Albright said CalSERVE did not consider his Greek affiliation a major factor when choosing him as the presidential nominee, but he added that the community will be beneficial in getting votes and that CalSERVE “has never tapped into that.”

“We’ve had difficulty running people in the Greek system,” Albright said. “It is not one of our main bases.”

Despite its strong presence in ASUC elections, the Greek system makes up only a small portion of the student body. A spring 2010 campus report showed 2,644 students in the Greek community, about 10.2 percent of the campus population.

Yet running Greek-affiliated candidates has proved successful in the past. Of the last 10 candidates slated for president by Student Action, seven were confirmed members of a Greek house. They all won.

The three Student Action candidates unconfirmed as members of a Greek house — no data could confirm their Greek affiliation — lost each election to CalSERVE candidates, two of whom were confirmed members of campus chapters, while the other was endorsed by Greek community members.

The last time both parties had Greek system candidates was in 2009, when Student Action candidate Will Smelko won over CalSERVE’s Oscar Mairena. In 2005, Student Action candidate and Phi Delta Theta member Manuel Buenrostro won over CalSERVE candidate and Phi Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority member Justine Lazaro.

Once in office, former ASUC Auxiliary Director Nadesan Permaul said candidates’ actions did not reflect their Greek affiliations. Permaul said in an email that he “did not see any particular preference or lack of support for the Greek System when compared to other initiatives or concerns advanced by student government” during his five years as director.

But other presidential candidates feel that the Greek system is unfairly dominated by Student Action.

SQUELCH! presidential candidate and current senator Noah Ickowitz — who pledged a fraternity but never joined — said students in the Greek system were limited by only having Student Action representation.

“I think Student Action taking the title of UNITE Greek does a disservice to the Greek system,” Ickowitz said, adding that this makes the Greek system part of a political party instead of a constituency.

Independent presidential candidate and Pi Kappa Alpha member Brad Mosell said he felt the Greek system has held an advantage in election campaigns because it becomes a centralized location for campaigning.

“It isn’t like it’s 60 people that are all best friends — there are subgroups,” Mosell said. “(But) on election day, you can get … subgroups to vote.”

Chloe Hunt is the lead student government reporter.