Jordan Smith and Becca Mooney won the Students’ Association (SA) presidential and vice-presidential election Wednesday night, the first all-female ticket to do so.
“We did it,” Smith recalled exclaiming when she saw the results, which pointed to the highest voter turnout in years.
The juniors garnered 944 votes, according to the official results, winning by 316 votes over classmates Delvin Moody and Courtney Thomas Jr. and by 345 over sophomores Nick Foti and Gabi Lipschitz.
Two-thousand, one-hundred-sixty-six students voted in the spring elections overall between Monday and Wednesday, an uptick in turnout from last year’s 1,955 amid a six-ticket presidential race.
“We’ve shattered a glass ceiling in Rochester,” Smith said that night, surrounded by friends in a warm and excited room in the Frederick Douglass Building where they had awaited the results. “We’ve got, like, 1,000 more to go, but for me it’s a sign of progress. I’m really excited people take a dual-female ticket seriously.”
Mooney agreed: “It’s a badge that we’re going to honor.”
“We are setting a precedent for future leaders to say this is possible,” she added.
Last year marked the first year of an “approval voting” system, which allows students to vote for more than one candidate or ticket, with the “most-approved” winning.
A total of 2,171 votes were cast this year, meaning most voters likely voted in the presidential race, some of them more than once. In 2015, 1,361 students voted for president and vice-president, with total turnout at 1,511. The year prior saw 1,916 voters total. In 2013, 1,383 voted in the presidential race out of 1,509 total.
Smith and Mooney emphasized that their victory is just the first step.
“We still have to work for it. It really, really has just begun,” Mooney said. “This is just one step in a larger mission that will be the entirety of next year.”
The duo’s early plans include building and training a new administration for a smooth transition—which includes soothing hard feelings.
“Right off the bat, creating an environment of encouragement and support,” Mooney said. “Oftentimes when you leave the election season, people harbor what can sometimes be negative feelings, and I think [we need to make sure] those don’t persist past the point of this moment.”
That night, runners-up Moody and Thomas stopped by to meet the winners, all hugs. And in an email to the Campus Times, Foti and Lipschitz said they’d “like to formally congratulate Becca and Jordan on their impressive win! They are incredible people, and we look forward to working with them.”
In an email to the Campus Times, outgoing SA President Vito Martino and Vice President Lance Floto added their advice to the list of congrats, saying, “Your time in office will go faster than you think, so we urge you to pick your battles and focus on the issues that will truly make a difference for students on this campus.”
Smith and Mooney also plan to pick up existing work where it’s been left off. Often, they said, initiatives pushed by senators one year are dropped when a new executive branch takes over. They want to avoid that.
“It’s incredibly important to keep those up so that people who are participatory this year, who are going to be involved next year, that they know that we take this seriously,” Smith said. “It’s not just about what we’ve proposed but all of the work that’s been done within the organization that’s been hugely important and really valuable.”
The pair cited efforts made by sophomore Senator Beatriz Gil Gonzalez—who was reelected with 830 votes Wednesday, the most of any candidate—on better integrating international students, helping them secure internships, and aiding in their search for host families over the summer. They also mentioned a recent report from the Senate Academic Affairs Committee about women in science and engineering.
Financial aid is an area of their platform the two plan to home in on right away.
“The University says they’re meeting full demonstrated need, and obviously if people are leaving every year there’s some kind of disconnect there,” Smith said.
Wednesday, though, the president and vice president–elect were still getting used to their newfound roles.
The night was “a little surreal, in a really wonderful way,” as Smith said, but their message to students came easy.
“We are your greatest friend and your biggest ally,” Mooney said. “I want them to feel comfortable coming to us for anything because we take it seriously. And we will do everything in our power not to just start the conversation, but to bring the conversation into action.”