The Committee on Student Elections (CSE) announced the results of the 2021-22 Student Government Association (SGA) executive board and class council elections on March 29. Three out of four members of the SMART ticket and one independent candidate won seats in the executive board elections, in which only one position was contested.
The 2021-22 SGA Executive Board will include junior Mehak Ali as executive president, sophomore Breanna Soldatelli as executive vice president, freshman Elaina Regier as executive secretary and sophomore Karen He as executive treasurer. He ran as an independent candidate against freshman Harvey McGuinness, who ran on the SMART ticket with Ali, Soldatelli and Regier.
Ali won the position of executive president with 594 votes.
Soldatelli received 568 votes for executive vice president, and Regier received 601 votes for executive secretary. All three candidates ran unopposed.
He won as executive treasurer with 402 votes, beating McGuinness, who received 229 votes.
A total of 722 voters, or 12% of the eligible student body, participated in the election, marking a decrease of 66% from last year, when a total of 1,435 students voted.
CSE Chair Ananta Srivastava attributed the low voter turnout to the non-competitiveness of this year’s elections, as well as the lack of in-person campaigning.
“I’m sure there are a lot of other factors, like COVID, but people probably don’t feel as motivated [to vote] when there’s only one person running for president,“ she said. “It’s just one more number to a candidate who has already secured a position.”
Ali, who is currently executive vice president, pointed to the new policy of holding the executive and class council board elections simultaneously. Regier agreed with Ali.
“We lose great people through this process,” Regier said. “The people who are running for Exec Board are the people we need most on SGA. It’s not right that once they lose this election, they won’t be able to be involved.”
In the class council elections, Nathan Mudrak was elected as senior class president with 208 votes, defeating Pritika Parmar by 82 votes.
Talal Widatalla, Angela Hussain, Subha Bhatta, Grace Wang, Veda Chanda and Niki Trivedi were elected as senior class senators, winning against Daniel Mathew, Eric Armstrong and Sebastian Llaca.
Anthony Singleton won junior class president with 194 votes. He ran uncontested. Talia Shadroui, Obi Onyinanya, JiWon Woo, Peter Huang, Chinat Yu and Sophie Liu were elected as junior class senators, beating Raymond Perez.
Kobi Khong won the position of sophomore class president with 234 votes, defeating Toby Mao, who received 160 votes.
Next year’s sophomore class senators will be Jenny Chen, Benjamin Scherzer, Raj Bhatt, Shalala Leny, Ireland Parrish and Rachel Huang. They ran against fellow candidates Noam Rotenberg, Akul Umamageswaran, Nivi Kumar and Xinyue Gu.
In total, 356 votes were cast for the senior class council elections, 237 votes were cast for the junior class council elections and 430 votes were cast for the sophomore class council elections. This marks a 14% decrease in voter turnout from last year’s elections and a 38% decrease from the 2018-19 elections.
Srivastava noted that although overall voter turnout was low, class council elections were especially competitive this year.
“Usually we really struggle, especially with the senior class, to have people come and run, but as you’ve seen in the results, we had two presidents running, as well as a total of nine senators, which is quite a few, so I was happy about that,” she said.
Srivastava promised that CSE will try to make future elections more competitive and diverse, although there is currently no concrete plan on how to do so.
Mudrak emphasized the direct connection between competitiveness and voter turnout in an email to The News-Letter.
“Competitive races, like my own and that of the incoming sophomore class council, had significantly greater turnout,” he wrote. “SGA needs to do better at making elections accessible and approachable for students to run in; no race should ever be won by default. Students deserve better.”
Ali said that she will talk with the CSE about separating the elections in the future, although it is ultimately the CSE’s choice.
Currently freshman class senator, Regier plans to focus on the three main points of SMART’s platform next year: connecting SGA with the administration and student body; increasing diversity, inclusion and disability awareness; and promoting sustainability.
“We will be most focused on the ‘connections’ piece because it falls perfectly under what Exec is and what our responsibilities are,” she said. “We need to get down to the basics of telling the student body what SGA is. We exist for all of their concerns, even individual concerns.”
Soldatelli, currently executive secretary, shared that next year’s Executive Board will also prioritize connecting the student body with each other.
“My main priority is going to be improving the image of SGA on campus through community-building. This is going to be the first time a lot of freshmen are on campus… [so] we’ll hopefully be having a lot of events and networking opportunities to connect students with people they haven’t met yet,” she said.
He’s main goal for next year is to increase transparency between student groups and SGA during budget allocations.
“The budget process in the past wasn’t very transparent, and students didn’t know how to reach out to us,” she said. “My goal is to increase communication about the process and what student groups can request and can’t request.”
Currently sophomore class senator and chair of the finance committee, He explained that SGA recently switched from annual budget allocations to semesterly ones, making open communication even more important.
Despite the non-competitiveness of this year’s election, Ali expressed her excitement about being next year’s executive president.
“Though I ran uncontested, it feels really great to win the election,“ she wrote. “I look forward to serving the student body next year and creating tangible change in students’ lives.”
Ananta Srivastava, the chair of CSE, is a staff writer for The News-Letter. She did not contribute reporting, writing or editing to this article.