The Doctoral Students’ Council has prepared the following resources for students conducting elections in their programs. While the DSC is not responsible for program elections, it is in all students’ interests to have representation on their program’s committees. To this end, these resources are intended to ensure that elections occur in a fair, democratic, and accountable way.

Background

The Governance Document of the Graduate Center requires that each program have the following standing committees (§3.5-3.6):

  • Executive Committee, which operates the program between standing meetings of the faculty, makes recommendations to Graduate Council, reviews faculty resources, and evaluates policies and procedures on dissertations.
  • Faculty Membership Committee, which nominates members of the program’s faculty, maintains a roster of potential doctoral faculty, records the status of faculty members currently designated, and reviews all actions take regarding faculty membership
  • Curriculum and Examinations Committee, which reviews curriculum and examination procedures and makes recommendations for action
  • Admission and Awards, which recommends admission and awards procedures and standards for the program and administers these procedures in accordance with these standards
  • Elections, which conducts all program elections

In addition, a program’s faculty, its governance structure, or its Executive Committee may establish additional standing committees. To check whether additional standing committees are described in your program’s governance document, contact dsc@cunydsc.org.

Each of these committees must have student representation elected by students in the program (§6.4B). If there are no students on your Elections Committee or your program does not have such a committee, discuss the situation with other students in your program and elect three students to moderate elections. Inform your EO and APO of their names, and refer to sections of the GSUC Governance as necessary. For further advice or if any of these committees do not exist in your program, contact dsc@cunydsc.org.

In addition to committees, students also elect representatives to

  • Graduate Council, the governing body of the Graduate School

Each program has one student representative per 100 matriculated students, or part thereof (§2.1A.1). Graduate Council representatives are elected for a two-year term, expiring in even years (Graduate Council Bylaws §2.1.E.1) For a current headcount of the students in your program, contact the Co-Chair for Business at ccb@cunydsc.org

DSC Program Representatives are elected through a separate process administered by the DSC. See Elections for more information.

About Opinio

NOTE: Opinio licenses have been discontinued by the Graduate Center IT department due to budget cuts FY2015-2016. The DSC is pushing IT to find a more cost-efficient alternative for student use. We will share any info about this issue as we hear it.

Opinio is a web based survey system that allows the users to create professionally looking online surveys and polls, collect and analyze response data. Selected features include:

  • Multiple question types
  • Customized survey look & feel
  • Email invitations
  • Response management
  • Survey reports

More information about Opinio can be found through the GC IT Knowledge Base.

Managing Elections with Opinio

Elections can be managed through a three-step process. First, moderators can solicit nominations for each committee position through a text-based survey. Second, nominees should be contacted to confirm nomination acceptance. Third, a survey ballot can be prepared with the names of nominees as multiple-choice responses.

Note: Always be prepared to revert to paper ballots in cases of special needs or technological disaster. To ensure access control, you should verify that students have not voted using the online system before providing anonymous ballots and delete their online invitation immediately after providing the ballot. See the ‘Manage invitations’ in steps 7 below.

What You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • An Opinio account, which must be requested from helpdesk@gc.cuny.edu. In your request, state that you require an account to run your program’s elections. It may take over a week for your request to be processed, so plan ahead. If you encounter problems, contact the DSC at dsc@cunydsc.org.
  • A list of committees and open positions. This can usually be obtained from your EO or APO. At minimum, it should contain the five committees listed above. Ask for descriptions of additional committees so that students know what they’re nominating for and voting on.
  • A list of all student email addresses. If your APO doesn’t already have one, request addresses through your program’s listserv, or use this as an opportunity to compile one.

Step 1: Nominations

  1. Log into your Opinio account at https://survey.gc.cuny.edu.
  2. Click ‘New Survey’ in the left-hand menu and name your survey according to your program (e.g., Anthropology Nominations 2009-2010, Biology Nominations 2009–2010, History Nominations 2009-2010). Find your survey in the main list and click on the title to edit it.
  3. Click ‘Survey setup’ in the left-hand menu and set authentication to ‘Password assigned by invitations,’ and set anonymity of respondents in invitations to ‘Full anonymity,’ then click ‘Save.’ This will ensure that voting is secure and anonymous.
  4. Modify the start and end dates.
  5. Click ‘Set privacy and behavior’ in the left-hand menu and under Multiple submissions, change allow multiple submissions to ‘No’ and check ‘invitations’ as the prevention method. This will ensure that only people who receive invitations will be able to vote and vote only one time. Enter your contact information in the “Email” category.
  6. To create a nomination field for a position, click ‘Questions’ in the left-hand menu. Each committee should be treated as a separate question. Enter the committee name and description in the text field (you may click ‘Advanced edit’ to change formatting). To create fields, click the Matrix tab and create a matrix with 1 total column and 1 row each position (e.g., for one position, 1 column x 1 rows; for two positions, 1 column x 2 rows). Change the matrix type to ‘Custom layout’ and click ‘Create matrix.’ Click the green pencil icon next to each cell and change the type to ‘Text.’ Once you’ve completed one committee, you can check ‘Copy to next’ at the bottom. When you click ‘Next >>’ to create another question, you’ll only need to change the committee name, description, and number of fields in the matrix. When you’re finished with every committee, click ‘Save.’
  7. To send the survey to students, click ‘Publish’ in the left-hand menu. Select ‘Invitations,’ then ‘New invitation.’ Add your contact information, send date/time, message, and optional reminder, and click ‘Create.’ In the invitation details, click ‘Add invitees’ in the left-hand menu and enter each email address on a separate line. Click ‘Save’ and your email will be sent to all recipients at the scheduled time. To view the status of invitations, resend messages, or delete invitations, use ‘Manage invitees.’
  8. In the survey administration page, click the traffic light to unlock your survey it available for responses.
  9. To close nominations and view results, return to the survey page and click the traffic light to deactivate responses. Click ‘Reports and data’ in the left-hand menu and choose ‘Comment report’ (only this will allow you to see text-based responses).

Step 2: Contacting Nominees

After closing nominations, you’ll need to contact nominees to confirm acceptance of their nomination. Here’s some sample text for nomination confirmations:

Dear NOMINEE,

I am pleased to inform you that you have been nominated to serve on the COMMITTEE. Do you accept this nomination?

If you have any questions regarding the position, please feel free to contact ELECTIONS COMMITTEE.

Again, congratulations on your nomination and we look forward to seeing you in the future. Please respond to your nomination by DATE so that we may process ballots for the elections in a timely manner.

Step 3: Voting

  1. Log into your Opinio account at https://survey.gc.cuny.edu.
  2. Click ‘New Survey’ in the left-hand menu and name your survey according to your program (e.g., Anthropology Elections 2009-2010, Biology Elections 2009–2010, History Elections 2009-2010). Find your survey in the main list and click on the title to edit it.
  3. Click ‘Survey setup’ in the left-hand menu and set authentication to ‘Password assigned by invitations,’ and set anonymity of respondents in invitations to ‘Full anonymity,’ then click ‘Save.’ This will ensure that voting is secure and anonymous.
  4. Modify the start and end dates.
  5. Click ‘Set privacy and behavior’ in the left-hand menu and under Multiple submissions, change Allow multiple submissions” to ‘No’ and check ‘invitations’ as the prevention method. This will ensure that only people who receive invitations will be able to vote and vote only one time. Enter your contact information in the Email category.
  6. To create a ballot for a committee, click ‘Questions’ in the left-hand menu. Each committee should be treated as a separate question. Enter the committee name and description in the text field (you may click ‘Advanced edit’ to change formatting). To create ballot items, click the Multiple choice tab and enter each name as a separate choice label. If more than one position is available on the committee, check ‘Allow multiple positions,’ and under Validation, change the number of selections allowed to the total number of positions. Leave 0 selections required so that students can skip voting on this committee, if they wish. To allow for write-in votes, check ‘Open ended question’ near the bottom of the page. Click ‘Next>>’ create the ballot for the next committee. When you’re finished with every committee, click ‘Save.’
  7. To send the ballots to students, click ‘Publish’ in the left-hand menu. Select ‘Invitations,’ then ‘New invitation.’ Add your contact information, send date/time, message, and optional reminder, and click ‘Create’ In the invitation details, click ‘Add invitees’ from the left-hand menu and enter each email address on a separate line. Click ‘Save’ and your email will be sent to all recipients at the scheduled time. To view the status of invitations, resend messages, or delete invitations, click ‘Manage invitees.’
  8. In the survey administration page, click the traffic light to unlock your survey it available for responses.
  9. To close elections and view results, return to the survey page and click the traffic light to deactivate responses. Click ‘Reports and data’ in the left-hand menu and choose ‘Comment report’ (only this will allow you to see any write-in votes).

Recommended Timetable

  • Before March 1, Ask your APO to request an Opinio account for you from helpdesk@gc.cuny.edu. In your request, state that you require an account to run your program’s elections. It may take over a week for your request to be processed. Contact dsc@cunydsc.org if you encounter difficulties.
  • March 1–15, Solicit nominations for positions.
  • March 15–20, Confirm nominations.
  • March 21–31, Conduct voting.
  • Before April 15, Report elections results to your EO, APO, Executive Committee, and students in your program.

For More Information

For general questions about Opinio, including your account, contact the IT helpdesk.

For specific questions about managing elections with Opinio, contact us at dsc@cunydsc.org.