Thursday, Sept. 29, Zoe Wang ’26 and Mac Mueller ’26 tied in the College of William and Mary’s class of 2026 presidential election, with each candidate receiving 217 votes in a highly competitive eight-way race. Cameron Curtis ’23, Chair of the Independent Elections Commission, stated that there is nothing in the Code that directly addresses what to do if there is no apparent winner.
While a run-off on Monday is the most likely option, the decision is pending code compliance review from Attorney General Kevin Lopez Pelaez ’23. Finishing out this year’s cohort of Student Assembly freshmen senators were Ashlyn Parker ’26, Jiexi Lin ’26, Matt Swenson ’26, and Spencer Krivo ’26.
There were also several upperclassmen positions up for grabs, including one senator for the class of 2024 and two senators for the class of 2023. This special fall election is the third in the past four years held to fill senior senate vacancies. Aparna Parlapalli ’23 and Max E. Berckmueller ’23 won the seats for the class of 2023, while incumbent Salaar Khan ’24 will rejoin the senate for the class of 2024, with challenger Justin Bailey ’24 losing by just two votes.
Turnout was low across the board, with 1,400 students voting in total. Class of 2024 turnout was lowest, with just 281 — or 16.5% — students voting, followed by the class of 2023 with 297 votes and the class of 2026 with 822, or 48.16%. The four winning senators for the class of 2026 won with a majority vote share, a combined 55%.
The winners gathered Thursday night in Blow Hall for a casual reception, during which current members of the senate welcomed the newly elected, discussed their campaigns, and talked about next steps.
Krivo said he campaigned by walking around campus playing a guitar.
“My campaign strategy was essentially wearing a suit and an electric guitar,” Krivo said. “And that gave me so many opportunities to talk to people and I'm proudly saying that I visited, I think, every dorm on campus, well, every freshman dorm on campus except for Camm. I visited GGV, visited Botetourt, had some nice conversations along the way about policy or music or, you know, anything. So a pretty productive campaign. That's part of why I did it.”
Many of the candidates across all elections commented on recent campus developments, especially the unionization of Sodexo dining workers at the College. Candidates highlighted the tension between keeping dining halls open, specifically Commons Dining Hall which is closest to most freshmen residence halls, and giving workers fair hours and pay. Some candidates, like Joey Zhang ‘26, called for expanded hours by opening Commons on weekends, during which it is currently closed. Others said the needs of workers should be top priority.
“They are not getting the pay they deserve, and thus, we can't keep places like Marketplace and the Commons Dining Hall open,” presidential candidate Cameron Scarpati ‘26 wrote in an Instagram post. “That's why I am for the Student Sodexo Dining Hall Union, so we can do better by the workers that do so much, but are given so little. So, before I say anything about the quality of life for us, we need to help the quality of life for them. It is selfish to demand better cooked chicken, more options, and more dining hall open hours when we are not doing enough for them.”
Some candidates advocated a middle ground. Presidential candidate Zoe Wang ’26, who faces the runoff on Monday, supports unionization but admitted hours are limited, suggesting that Student Assembly subsidize Commons dining workers $15.50 an hour to keep the dining hall open until 9pm.
Class of 2024 senate winner Khan ran on a campaign focused on administration transparency, inclusion in athletics, sustainability and mental health.
Both Parlapalli and Berckmueller campaigned on transparency and effectively communicating students’ needs to the rest of the Student Assembly. Berckmueller, who is completing his degree in three years, said improving housing and town-gown relations were top priorities in the upcoming weeks.
“I would probably prioritize working on improving the relations between the city of Williamsburg and students, especially in off campus housing,” Berckmueller said. “I know that's been a big issue for a long time, and it's something that I feel like Student Assembly has had trouble addressing before. So I hope to really provide some sort of long term solution by working with some of the city council members.”’
Parlapalli, who transferred to the College and served as a representative at her previous university, expressed gratitude for her election and those who supported her during her campaign.
“It's very exciting really just because we get to give back to the community right before we leave,” Parlapalli said. “And I feel like there's some impact that we can make as seniors, so it’s very exciting”