Freshmen turned out in droves last Thursday and Friday to elect four of their peers to the Students’ Association (SA) Senate.
Over 700 freshmen voted for 19 candidates, who had spent the whole week campaigning.
The 53 percent voter turnout rate far exceeds the approximately 32 percent rate from the spring SA elections, considered by SA members as one of the most successful election turnouts in recent years.
An 11-hour delay in the release of the results meant many of the candidates weren’t aware they had been elected when contacted by the Campus Times. Results were posted at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Dan Pak, like the other senators-elect, had no idea he had won.
“That’s crazy,” he said upon hearing the results. “I would like to thank the students for taking their time to vote [and] my friends at Gilbert Hall for being such a great campaign team.”
SA Senate is excited to welcome its new members.
“I think the freshmen senators tend to bring a lot of energy and innovation to senate,” Speaker of the Senate Lindsay Wrobel said. “Every year when we get freshman senators, they are some of the most wonderful people here on campus.”
One of the four senators is looking to work with the other candidates to implement their plans for making a change on campus.
“This week of campaigning was hard with 18 other individuals [who] had bright ideas to create change on this campus,” Senator-elect Jamal Holtz said. “I look forward to working with all other candidates to hear their input.”
Campaigning, which began on Sunday at noon, was a high point throughout the week for many.
As soon as 12:02 p.m. on Sunday, it was possible to see campaign teams chalking every inch of Dandelion Square. Even more popular for candidates was to personally meet voters. Several held events, from town hall meetings to movie night meet-and-greets. To get the word out further, posters were put up around campus informing potential voters of who the candidates were.
There were numerous campaign violations visible around campus, including campaigning in unauthorized locations, as determined by the SA Elections and Rules Committee. One candidate faced disqualification from the race after a member of their campaigning team violated the rules set by the SA Elections and Rules Committee.
Elections and Rules Committee Chair and junior Jake Braniecki declined to comment on campaign violations.
The final two winning candidates, Kamel Awayda and Leif Johansen, ran a joint campaign.
“I’m still trying to process the results,” Awayda said after hearing the news that he had won. “I couldn’t have possibly voted for myself 213 times.”
He added, “The magnitude of the support and positivity among all those in the voting process is what I owe my success to.”
Awayda and Johansen each had the two best results of all the candidates running, with Awayda taking 214 votes, nearly a third of voters in the election.
“We have accomplished the easy part,” Johansen said. “I think it’s time to get to work. You heard our message, and now we are ready to hear yours.”