Vita, Thomas clinch Student Assembly Presidency

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Class of 2020 President Kelsey Vita '20 and Chair of the Senate Ellie Thomas '20 approach their team after learning of their win. JAMIE HOLT // THE FLAT HAT

Class of 2020 President Kelsey Vita ’20 and Chair of the Senate Ellie Thomas ’20 clinched the Student Assembly presidential and vice presidential race March 21, beating out Class of 2021 President David DeMarco ’21 and Nyla Pollard ’21. For the past week and half, candidates posted in Facebook groups, created websites and chalked campaign messages over campus in the hopes of convincing students that they were the best candidates for the job.

Out of the 3,672 students who voted in the SA presidential contest, Vita and Thomas earned 2,123 votes for a total of 58 percent of the vote, while DeMarco and Pollard earned 1,549 votes for a total of 42 percent.

Vita and Thomas’ platform totals 11 campaign promises, focusing on mental health and wellness, sustainability, diversity, Title IX and sexual assault prevention, student rights, dining services and community building, public affairs and campus safety, finance reform, academic affairs, accessibility and communications and transparency.

Following their victory, Vita and Thomas said that they were excited to start working on their platform promises, particularly improving issues on campus concerning Title IX. Speaking just after being informed of their election, the two expressed gratitude for their team’s efforts and extended their thanks to the student body.

“They’re amazing, oh my god,” Vita said. “We’re just so grateful to all the students that supported us throughout this wild week and a half and all the people who were vulnerable and honest with us and willing to talk about their experiences and who believed in the idea that we can make change together.”

Class of 2020 President Kelsey Vita ’20 and Chair of the Senate Ellie Thomas ’20 embrace after hearing the news of their win. JAMIE HOLT // THE FLAT HAT

In expressing their support for DeMarco and Pollard, Vita and Thomas said that they were happy that the two teams were able to successfully run positive campaigns. Thomas said that DeMarco called them after the results were in and said he was proud of how the campaign was conducted.

“Dave and Nyla did a great job,” Vita said. “They worked really hard and they should be proud of the work they’ve done. And we talked about some issues we both are excited about going forward.”

After learning about his loss, DeMarco reflected on his campaign journey, as well as his experiences interacting with students from disparate groups across campus.

I wouldn’t have run the campaign any differently. I think that it was just a really beautiful experience to have people from across the campus come together for something so unique.

“I wouldn’t have run the campaign any differently,” DeMarco said. “I think that it was just a really beautiful experience to have people from across the campus come together for something so unique. Our team was just people from random parts of campus; it was super diverse, and we were able to compete, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

DeMarco also expressed his support for Vita and Thomas’ upcoming administration.

“I think Kelsey and Ellie are going to do a wonderful job, and I’m going to give them a call right after this and congratulate them,” DeMarco said. “If they need me for anything, I’m a call away, but I hope that they will take what we fought for and everything we’ve envisioned to heart and really blend it with their form of leadership.”

DeMarco gathers with his team after hearing of his loss. JAMES CARD // THE FLAT HAT

Class of 2020

After running in an uncontested race, Sen. Cody Mills ’20 was elected the new class of 2020 president. Of the 814 students who voted, he received 702 votes or 86 percent while 112 students chose not to vote. Mills focused his platform on mental health and improving campus accessibility.

Sen. Zie Medrano ’20 will continue to represent the class of 2020 as a senator, and newcomers Angela Tiangco ’20 and Liam Watson ’20 will also join him as senators after running in uncontested races.

A special election will take place during the fall semester to fill the vacant class of 2020 senator position.

Class of 2021

After a close race, a margin of 21 votes decided the class of 2021 president. Aria Austin ’21 was elected to the position over Sen. Helen Tariku ’21. As a former class of 2021 senator during her freshman year, Austin has experience in SA; her campaign platform, entitled “Unity. Community. A New Opportunity for Change,” focused on the four main issues of mental health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, Title IX and sexual assault prevention and student safety.

Out of the 930 students who voted, Austin won with 471 votes, or 50 percent of the total vote, while Tariku fell short with 450 votes, or 49 percent of the vote.

In addition to class presidents, the class of 2021 student body elected four senators: Kyle Vasquez 21, Maggie Wells 21, Anthony Joseph 21 and Patrick Salsburg 21.

Vasquez received 661 votes, or 23 percent of the total vote; Wells received 630 votes or 22 percent of the vote; Joseph received 606 votes or 21.5 percent of the vote, and Salsburg received 498 votes for a total of 18 percent of the vote.

Karl Palenkas ’21 fell short of election with 423 votes for a total of 15 percent of the vote.

Class of 2022

Current Class of 2022 President Suhas Suddala ’22 was re-elected to his position, defeating opponent Salimata Sanfo ’22. Suddala focused his platform on continuing the mental health and sustainability initiatives that he began this year.

Out of the 934 students who voted, Suddala won with 623 votes, or 67 percent of the total vote, while Sanfo fell short with 311 votes, or 33 percent of the vote.

In addition to class president, the class of 2022 student body elected four Senators: Victoria Morales 22, Meghana Boojala 22, Jahnavi Prabhala 22 and Henry Philpott 22.

Morales received 624 votes, or 21 percent of the total vote; Boojala received 597 votes for a total of 20 percent of the vote; Prabhala received 572 votes for a total of 19 percent of the vote, and Philpott received 494 votes for a total of 17 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile Connor DiGiacomo ’22 fell short of election with 365 votes for a total of 12 percent of the vote, as did Jackson Thomas ’22 who received 310 votes for 10.5 percent.

Voter Turnout

I would also like to point that we had one of the highest voter turnouts ever because of the hard work and effort on the part of all the candidates.

“I would also like to point that we had one of the highest voter turnouts ever because of the hard work and effort on the part of all the candidates,” Elections Commission Chair Sarah Baker ’19 said in a written statement.

Despite high turnout, technical issues occurred during the election due to a glitch in the TribeLink system. This software failure caused all students who voted before 8 a.m. to be incapable of voting for the SA President and Vice President ticket. A follow-up link with a provisional ballot was sent to the over 200 students affected by the glitch, allowing them to vote in the SA presidential race later in the day.

Another concern raised on election day involved the apparent disenfranchisement of that students taking less than 12 credits due to medical leave or an academic reason. These students were ineligible to vote in the election because they were not considered full-time students.