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NERD is the word

Student body elections are being held this week at Southern Oregon University and four students are asking their colleagues to vote one way: nerdy.

The four students, majoring in computer science and physics, have banded together under a Vote Nerdy banner to try to gain seats in the university's senate.

Will Barondeau, Jason Cyphers, Scott Hubert and Corey Metcalfe are campaigning "to put nerdy geeks with smart ideas in student government," according to the posters they plastered across the school's campus.

"Even if we might be socially awkward, we still all love to think and come up with ideas and solve problems, and that's what people in public office are needed to do," Barondeau said Monday.

Much to their surprise, all four of the students are running unopposed.

"We thought that we were going to have some competition," Cyphers said. "But there weren't a lot of people interested in student government this year. That was one of the reasons we decided to run."

In order to be elected, they each only need the vote of about 1 percent of the student body — about 60 votes, Metcalfe said.

Barondeau and Metcalfe, both sophomores, are each campaigning for one of the five At-Large Senator seats open. At-Large Senators represent the entire student body. Sophomore Jason Cyphers is running for Off-Campus Senator, to represent students living off-campus. Scott Hubert, who has enough credits to be classified as a senior, but has another year of school left, is running for Science Senator, to represent SOU's science department.

All four, who graduated from Phoenix High School, are "proud to be nerds," Barondeau said.

Although they're running on the same ticket, they don't always agree with each other and don't expect to always vote the same way in the senate, they said.

"I personally know I'm going to disagree with them on many points because we've gotten in many fights in the past," Metcalfe said.

They do, however, have some common goals, such as updating the senate's bylaws, they said.

Although the students are the first to run together on the Vote Nerdy ticket, they didn't invent the phrase — their friend Ryan Chaddock did last spring. During that election, Chaddock beat out two competitors for the social sciences senate seat and is now running for vice president.

The Vote Nerdy campaign is persuasive because many college students identify with being somewhat odd, Chaddock said.

"I don't know a lot of college students who don't feel nerdy about something, who have something that they can obsess about and talk about for hours and basically nerd-out on," he said.

In SOU's next student body election, in the fall, the Vote Nerdy candidates hope to have four women under their banner on the ballot, they said.

"We're looking, in future elections, to expand our campaign to put nerds into office," Barondeau said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.