The Committee on Student Elections announced the winners of the freshman Student Government Association (SGA) race on the evening of Sept. 14. The eight seats up for election were filled by Vishnu Dontu as freshman class president, Omotara Tiamiyu, Arihant Singh, Jaden Williams and Tarini Basireddy as freshman class senators and John Cintron, Jazzlyn Fernandez and Joshua Brown as the Freshman Programming Council members.
The Class of 2027 cast their votes through CampusGroups from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 14. With a total of 607 votes cast, this year’s freshman class achieved a voter turnout of approximately 38%.
Cintron and Fernandez won by the largest margins, receiving 34.7% and 30.43% of the votes, respectively. Tiamiyu received the most votes in the race for a senate seat, receiving 30.92% of the total votes. The battle for the presidency was a closer race, with Dontu winning with 26.81% of total votes.
Out of the few groups of candidates on the same ticket, the self-titled “Team Blue” ticket swept the race, producing five out of the six winners. As Dontu, Singh, Basireddy, Fernandez and Brown all won their respective positions, the majority of the freshman SGA is composed of students on Team Blue.
Singh described the purpose of and the unity within Team Blue in an interview with The News-Letter.
“We all can work together and care about similar things,” he said. “We all had similar platforms and shared values. We were all frustrated with the dining hall situation, frustrated because a lot of us had gotten COVID weeks prior and the facilities were not great. Also, the gym situation is something a lot of us wanted to see improved.”
In an interview with The News-Letter, freshman Teddy Starynski expressed that they felt that the Team Blue ticket was an effective political tactic for freshmen like themselves, who were not particularly interested in school politics.
“Especially if you’re like me, and you were just going for whatever campaign seemed the most interesting. You’re like, ‘okay!’, because it grabs your attention,” they said. “Since I saw a good amount of campaigns that had a lot of very similar points, it just boils down to whatever seems the most interesting.”
Along with campaign flyers around campus, many candidates utilized less traditional methods of campaigning, such as chalk messages across Freshman Quad, Instagram pages with policy-themed rap videos and even handing out stickers and condoms with candidates’ names on them.
While the candidates were all pushing the bounds of typical campaign strategies to target potential voters in the Class of 2027, many freshmen remained confused about what SGA was.
Starynski explained that they had never heard of SGA before the election.
“I understood a little bit [about how SGA works], but not fully,” they said. “It felt like I was seeing stuff for two or three days, and then they’re like ‘Okay, time to vote!’”
This knowledge barrier proved to be a challenge for many of the candidates running for SGA positions. Dontu explained how he recognized and dealt with the confusion in an interview with The News-Letter.
“The truth is that most people I talked to didn't know what SGA was, what positions were in SGA and how much power they had. It was kind of a fake entity to them, which they weren't comfortable voting on because they weren't fully aware of it,” he said. “That's why I posted a video on my Instagram explaining what SGA does to alleviate the issue and to tell people what it is, so they're not left in the dark.”
Other freshmen, like Sophia Burnett, did not vote in the election because they were skeptical about the impact SGA makes on student life. In an interview with The News-Letter, Burnett explained her apathy towards the election.
“I don’t think that there’s going to be any difference in my student experience based on who wins. There are going to be people who will the positions and then life will carry on,” she remarked. “It doesn’t matter who is the president. Maybe there’ll be one extra dance or social event? ”
Some students felt that the proposed changes, like adding research advisors to help students look for research opportunities or more gym equipment, would be insignificant for them. In contrast, other students were enthusiastic to see the promises made by elected candidates come to fruition.
Dontu articulated his excitement for these alterations to take place, not just as a member of SGA, but as a student.
“I'm really passionate about these initiatives,” he said. “These are initiatives I want to implement just as much as everyone else, because I struggle with the same issues.”