With a renewed emphasis on recruitment, SGA in this week’s Class of 2016 election turned around a recent track record of uncontested races and lackluster voter turnout.
Almost 1,000 freshmen — of a 1,520-person class — voted Monday and Tuesday to elect seven of their peers to first- time positions on SGA.
Twenty-five members of the Class of 2019 ran for elected office, a 60 percent increase compared to the 2014 elections.
The 933 ballots cast represents a 29 percent increase over the 722 ballots cast in the Class of 2018 races last fall.
Jana Lynn Patterson, associate vice president for student life, credited signs posted in residence halls and more social media promotion to the bump in candidates and overall attention paid to the election.
Robert Danis, Class of 2016 vice president, said a push from current SGA members, Orientation Leaders and RAs helped encourage students to run for office.
Danis said he sees increased freshman
interest in SGA as a positive sign for the future.
“As for SGA as a whole, more candidates and more interest should translate into more driven students that can better represent their constituents, so I am very excited to see what we can do for Elon this year,” Danis said in an email. “I would attribute the higher number of candidates to SGA members as a whole reaching out in every way that they could. We have students who were OLs or RAs, and they made sure to encourage their students to run.
“I think another factor is just the students in general — it seems as though each candidate was a part of Student Government in high school, so it only makes sense for them to continue being involved in college.”
Of the seven open positions, only one, Class of 2019 Treasurer, ran unopposed.
Ten students ran for the position of class president, four for vice president, three for secretary, seven for senator and one for treasurer.
Kenneth Brown, Jr., the elected Class of 2019 president, said running against nine other candidates was nerve-wrecking, but rewarding.
“It’s a weird feeling, because it’s the first race when I had to run against other people,” Brown said. “So you put up this front where you’re confident and you keep thinking, ‘What if the cookie doesn’t crumble in your favor?’ But the cookie crumbled.”
Michael Pitten, elected Class of 2019 vice president, said participation is paramount to a more engaged class.
“I think our voter turnout serves as a benchmark of how the Class of 2019 is going to be engaged this year,” Pitten said. “I’m excited to serve our already engaged class.”
With more candidates running, though, came more disappointments. But SGA President Avery Steadman said there are still opportunities for students interested in joining SGA.
“All [interested members] need to do is contact me, and I will work my hardest to find a place for them somewhere on SGA or another committee,” Steadman said.
Weekly SGA meetings are open to the public. The organization meets at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays in Moseley 215, where winners will begin their duties as elected officers representing their constituents.