Terra Sloane elected next student body president, divestment referendum passes

Terra Sloane and Oscar Lazo. COURTESY IMAGE / MOINCA BAGNOLI
Terra Sloane and Oscar Lazo. COURTESY IMAGE / MONICA BAGNOLI

Thursday, March 28, SA Secretary of Health and Safety Terra Sloane ’25 and SA Secretary of Diversity Initiatives Oscar Lazo ’25 emerged victorious in this year’s competitive race to lead the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly. The ticket faced competition from SA Class of 2025 President Yannie Chang ’25 and SA Sen. Hashir Aqeel ’25.

Sloane and Lazo won with 47.04% of the vote (1697 votes), while 42.91% of voters (1548 votes) opted for Chang and Aqeel and 10.03% abstained. 

“We were very surprised, but feeling good,” Sloane told The Flat Hat. “We’ve got our campaign team here, and we are feeling excited but still very stunned, I would say.”

Sloane touched on the experience of running against Chang and Aqeel.

“We faced some amazing opponents that had a wonderful career in Student Assembly already, I think that we admire them so much, and I voted for them in the past however many elections that they’ve been running for their positions, so I think that, [we’re] definitely shocked, we were not expecting this outcome, but we’re very excited,” Sloane added.

The Sloane campaign celebrating its victory. COURTESY IMAGE / TERRA SLOANE

This year's election saw the return of an official contest. Last year, SA President Sydney Thayer ’24 only faced a write-in challenge from Max Beers ’24. In 2022, former SA President John Cho ’23 faced Conor Sokolowsky ’23, who was serving as the SA Class of 2023 president, and former SA Deputy Secretary for Outreach and Campaigns Mikayla Fulcher ’23. 

A number of significant endorsements were a part of this election. The Flat Hat, the Committee for Contextualization of Campus Landmarks and Iconography, Sokolowsky, Williamsburg City Councilmember Caleb Rogers ’20 and various multicultural organizations and others endorsed Chang, while VOX: Planned Parenthood Generation Action, SA Attorney General Owen Williams ’23, M.P.P. ’25, William and Mary Choir, the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council, among others, endorsed Sloane. 

Members of SA endorsed both Chang and Sloane.

Students at the College also approved a referendum question on the ballot calling for the College to divest from its ties to Israel as a result of the country’s violent actions in Palestine. 56.44% of voters voted “Yes,” 27.19% voted “No” and 15.52% abstained.

“This referendum calls for The College of William & Mary to submit an audit of their endowment to determine the extent to which it is implicated in companies that uphold The State of Israel's system of apartheid and continued infliction of violence against Palestinians, and to immediately divest from such funds, as well as end institutional ties to such corporations,” the referendum explanation reads. 

The full text of the referendum can be found here.

Sloane said she was happy that the referendum was able to be put on the ballot and that it overwhelmingly passed. She said SA will work in the upcoming months to accommodate the action items laid out in the referendum. 

The SA Senate recently passed SR 331-005 - The Ceasefire in Palestine Resolution, which calls for a statement from College President Katherine Rowe calling for a ceasefire in the conflict, as well as “lasting peace for all peoples involved in or impacted by the violence taking place in Palestine and Israel.” Both Chang and Sloane supported the resolution, of which Aqeel was a co-sponsor.

According to this year's election results, 3,607 students voted on the recent ballot. Last year, the Independent Elections Commission did not release voter turnout data. However, 1,186 eligible voters took part in the SA presidential election. In 2019, turnout was 23.96%.

Thayer called Sloane to congratulate her and inform her of her victory shortly after the votes were tallied.

While SA Vice President Taylor Fox ’24 praised the availability of such an option last year, the IEC did not allow for write-in options this year.

“We were really happy to actually see a write-in option so students can actually voice who they want to office,” Fox said.

IEC Chair Jason Zheng ’26 explained the reason for such a decision, having discussed the matter with Director of Student Leadership Development Anne Arseneau ’89 M.A.Ed. ’92 and SLD Associate Director Jennifer Leung.

“Yes, so I talked with Anne and Jen—so this is also perspective from the Student Assembly Advisors—we rarely ever do write-in candidates, but last year there was one because there was a campaigned [sic] that campaigned on being a write-in, which is why we had that option,” Zheng wrote to The Flat Hat.

Zheng added that the decision to omit a write-in option was partly due to the fact that usually, candidates have to meet certain requirements to run for office, such as attending an information session, submitting a financial disclosure form and rules and policies that could be ignored if a candidate was not officially running.

However, SA Code spells out the process in which a write-in candidate may take office.

“All who run a write-in campaign will be subject to the same campaign regulations and penalties as officially declared candidates. The Election Commission shall have the power to review a write-in candidate’s Class 2 infraction as a Class 3 infraction. If a write-in candidate wins the vote, the Elections Commission will be required to contact the candidate about their desire to hold the office. If the candidate wishes to accept the offer, they will be required to submit an expense report within 48 hours. Furthermore, no write-in candidate will be certified as the winner until their eligibility has been verified,” the SA Code reads.

Incumbent class presidents Matthew Hwang ’25, Zoe Wang ’26 and Nico Giro-Martin ’27 all won re-election. Hwang beat out Aggie Rigo Saitta ’25 by 342 votes. 

The class of 2025 senatorial candidates were all elected, as there were four open spots and only three individuals running. The candidates were Jeffrey Gu ’25, Laayba Tanoli ’25, who switched her classification from class of 2026, and Secretary of the Senate Sen. Hazel Vineet ’25.

Similarly, the class of 2026 senatorial candidates were all elected, as four candidates ran for four spots. The only newcomer to the Senate from the class of 2026 is Debbie Ho ’26. Sen. Matt Swenson ’26 and Sen. Spencer Krivo ’26 are both returning to the Senate. Ashlynn Parker ’26, who had previously resigned her seat, is doing the same. 

Nine candidates ran in the class of 2027 senatorial race. Sen. Tyson Liverman ’27, Sen. Mayer Tawfik ’27 and Sen. Sophie Kennedy ’27 all won reelection, while first-time newly-elected Cheryl Dao ’27 beat out incumbent Hunter Steele White ’27. 

This story is still developing.


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