Correction: The previous headline and article incorrectly stated that 20.3% of eligible undergraduates voted in the elections.
The Committee on Student Elections (CSE) announced the results of the 2022-2023 Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Board and class council elections on earlier this month. Three out of the four executive board positions were uncontested.
The 2022-2023 SGA Executive Board will consist of Breanna Soldatelli as executive president, Kobi Khong as executive vice president, Elaina Regier as executive secretary and Kya Nicholson as executive treasurer. Khong, Regier and Nicholson ran uncontested and on a ticket together.
CSE reported 1,025 votes out of 5,040, which comes out to 20.3%. This is an increase from last year, when 12% of the eligible student body voted in the election.
In total, 426 votes were cast for executive board elections, 151 votes for senior class elections, 251 votes for junior class elections, and 197 votes for sophomore class elections.
Soldatelli won executive president with 41.78% of the votes, followed by Karen He with 38.03% and Raymond Perez with 16.67%.
Khong expressed his disappointment with the low voter turnout but recognized why the student body may not be as engaged with SGA elections in an email to The News-Letter.
“Especially recently, SGA has been perceived poorly by the student body and from the perspective of a member of the student body I can see why,” he wrote. “There's a bit of disconnect between us and the students regarding what we have done and what we can do.”
He explained how transparency and communication are imperative in rebuilding the connection between SGA and the student body. According to Khong, SGA will continue to share its plans in a digestible format to allow students to stay updated on the work they are doing in hopes that students will read the information provided to them.
Like Khong, CSE chair Mimi Asamoah-Mensah attributed the low voter turnout to the lack of trust in SGA members in an interview with The News-Letter. Asamoah-Mensah feels as though many students feel like SGA members will not implement the changes they are promising during campaign season.
“I remember when we were pulling for questions for the executive board debate, a lot of the messages we received weren't even questions, many asked ‘Why doesn't the council do what they say they're going to do?’ and ‘do you just want to use this as a resume booster?’,” she said. “There's a general sentiment among the student body that members are only wanting to run for SGA for that resume booster or the ability to say that they have a position on SGA.”
In an email to The News-Letter, Nicholson argued that both prospective candidates and voters should have enough time to share and review campaigns, respectfully.
“Something I am hoping for and will work on for next year is in-person voting,” she wrote. “This would create a much more efficient system and make voters recognize the importance of participating in elections on campus.”
In an email to The News-Letter, Regier echoed Nicholson’s claims, citing both the election timeline and past voter trends in explaining the low voter turnout. She also hopes to implement in-person voting next year.
Asamoah-Mensah believes that a longer voting process would not increase voter turnout, explaining that increasing the duration of the voting process won’t make the student body regain faith in SGA.
Next year’s sophomore class president will be Ryan Chou, who won the position uncontested with 197 votes cast. Sophomore class senators will be Jackson Morris, Dalhart Dobbs III, Nasreen Naqvi, Aracely Loza-Cervantes, Iris Gupta and Brandon Benjamin.
Harvey McGuiness won the position of junior class president with 251 votes cast, and he also ran uncontested. Junior class senators will be Jenny Chen, Shalala Leny, Mufasa Cruz Moreno, Ireland Parrish and Rachel Huang.
JiWon Woo, with 49.01% of the 151 votes, defeated Chinat Yu, who received 43.71% of the votes, for senior class president. Senior class senators will be Sophie Liu, Elisa Rodriguez, Alaa Fadlalla and Zihe Zhu.
According to Asamoah-Mensah, the lack of students running for SGA positions leads to a lack of representation of the student body.
“Even in real politics, it's nice to see a change instead of the same people running over and over again. For example, as an African American female, there are very few, if any, people in SGA that are like me,” she said. “[Students] are not seeing representation of themselves in the people that are in charge trying to represent them, or at least trying to get their input.”
In an interview with The News-Letter, Soldatelli said she hopes to continue her legacy of communication and transparency in her executive presidency. She noted the steps SGA has taken toward this, such as consolidating information on its website and live streaming its meetings, and hopes to expand on these things during her presidency.
Soldatelli added that she will be talking with competitor and current Executive Treasurer He to streamline processes and eliminate redundancies.
“I'm working more internally in SGA to increase effectiveness,” she said. “I want to work with administration to streamline those processes that include student organizations and financial funding which is something Karen wanted to talk about.”
Nicholson echoed Soldatelli’s statement, writing that she hopes to clarify the process of how student organizations can obtain funds through infographics and updates from the finance committee.
With his future position as executive vice president, Khong hopes to work at the Diversity and Equity workspace as well as improve the connection and communication gap between students and administrators.
As executive secretary, Regier plans to make better use of the SGA Instagram by posting about what SGA is and does. Regier also commented on the lack of interest in SGA positions, writing that making SGA more present on campus should help in making more people interested in getting involved.
“I feel that secretary is really one of the positions where you don’t need prior SGA experience and just need a vision, and people aren’t recognizing and taking advantage of that,” she wrote.
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