Five candidates elected to SGA positions after low voter turnout

The+Student+Government+Association+in+a+joint+session+meeting+in+February+2020.+

Photo: Yongze Wang

The Student Government Association in a joint session meeting in February 2020.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

The Student Government Association’s fall elections elevated three incumbents and two newcomers to representative positions in the organization following one of the lowest voter turnouts in recent memory.

Incumbents Jehan Ayesha-Wirasto, Ryan Jackson, and Pranit Chand won re-election to executive vice president, communication studies senator, and IDIP senator positions respectively, after running unopposed. 

First-year Aryan Chaudhari won the only contested race of the elections and will serve as Class of 2024 President in the spring. Chaudhari beat competitor Hannah Flayhan in a landslide, winning 96 percent of the votes cast in the contest. 

“I feel great, I feel happy that the people chose me to represent the class of 2024,” Chaudhari said in an interview. “Obviously, my opponent put up a very good battle, and I appreciate the competition. I’m looking forward to helping out the class of 2024 in any way I can.”

The fall elections saw just 131 students vote, a significant dip from totals reported in previous semesters.

SGA’s fall 2019 elections turned out 517 students—up from 234 during the fall 2018 elections. In the spring, when elections were held entirely virtually for the first time due to the pandemic, 387 students voted. This was the second semester of an entirely virtual election cycle. Last year’s marketing included campaigning and an Instagram takeover on the SGA account, where candidates would promote themselves and their platform. This year, SGA did not host their semesterly takeovers. Instead, they put out two posts encouraging students to vote. SGA also did not host its usual press night, where candidates speak with students about their platforms.

Chief Justice Lilly Meehan-Egan, who oversees elections, told The Beacon last week the Instagram takeovers never materialized due to a lack of interest from the candidates. 

Chaudhari, who will represent the interests of the class of 2024 in SGA, plans to create a space for his peers to voice concerns with their representatives. Open communication, she hopes, will let her represent the goals of the entire class, not just a select few. 

“Whatever events they want to happen, whatever social activities they want to happen, I’m usually open to any sorts of ideas, in addition to whatever ideas I plan on enacting,” Chaudhari said. “I just want to hear from the people in the class of 2024. So I’m not going in blind, I want to hear what they want to thank so much, or hear what they think so, one, that’d be one of them.” 

Chaudhari said he is excited to work alongside his friend and roommate, newly elected Class of 2024 Vice President Joseph Naileth, who won the uncontested race for his position.

“I am excited to work with Joe,” Chaudhari said. “Joe is a very, very talented fellow…  We both have similar mindsets on how we want to approach the class of 2024.” 

Though SGA filled five positions, they still face several vacancies in the spring. Twelve senatorial seats—including Business of Creative Enterprises senator, Honors Program senator, Journalism senator, Marketing Communications senator, Visual and Media Arts senator—and the executive treasurership still remain vacant, along with several class council positions.