Student Assembly candidates Cat Huang ’21 and Uche Chukwukere ’21 confirmed Wednesday night to The Sun that they would be suspending their campaigns due to the COVID-19 outbreak — which on Tuesday prompted the University to announce a shift to online classes and ask students to leave campus at the start of spring break.
“In light of the recent news, I have decided to suspend my presidential campaign so I can focus my resources and platform on sharing information and resources to help students who are struggling with the news,” Huang, the current S.A. executive vice president, wrote in a message to The Sun.
Chukwukere, who currently serves as an undesignated representative at-large, echoed similar sentiments, saying that he saw a “general amount of panic, fear and frustration,” following President Martha E. Pollack’s announcement to close classrooms.
“A lot of students, at this point in time, need a lot of support, especially from students that are in leadership positions, it just was not appropriate to continue campaigning,” Chukwukere said.
Huang and Chukwukere will not actively campaign for president, which includes promoting their platforms on social media and on campus.
It is unclear if the other S.A. presidential candidate, Dillon Anadkat ’21 will suspend his campaign. Anadkat did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has prompted a flurry of cancellations at Cornell. All events with at least 100 people have been canceled and plans for graduation ceremonies remain unclear as students living on campus have been asked to leave when spring break begins. Classes are also expected to be completely online by the last day of in-person instruction, March 27.
Campaigning for S.A. elections kicked off last Tuesday, and most recently, there was a candidates’ debate on Monday. The S.A. was supposed to host a candidate’s forum on Wednesday, but it has since been canceled.
While certain candidates have suspended campaigning, elections are currently set to go on as scheduled, with online voting slated to open on March 16 and end on March 18.
However, like much of Cornell, even that is uncertain: at its Thursday meeting, the S.A. will vote on whether to suspend elections, postponing them to the fall semester, according to Lydia Zhang ’20, director of elections.
All candidates running for positions on the S.A. have been contacted about the prospect of suspending campaigns and canceling elections for the spring semester, Zhang wrote in a message to The Sun. Most candidates are in favor of this initiative, according to Zhang.
According to S.A. president Joe Anderson ’20, the S.A. will still vote on fossil fuel divestment at its March 12 meeting, and will continue to have public meetings until spring break. The S.A. executive committee will decide on whether to host meetings on Zoom after spring break.