Elon University SGA Executive President Kyle Porro didn’t pull any praise when describing his successor.
Porro has worked extensively with junior Morgan Bodenarain while they were both on the senate — most recently this year while she was Class of 2018 vice president. Now, with a couple of weeks left in his term, Porro knows he is handing over the reins to someone who will take the university to new heights.
To him, she is the right person for the job.
“Its evident that when you have a conversation with her that she is very passionate about this stuff,” Porro said. “She didn’t waste a minute jumping into SGA and has tackled some really important issues. She’s going to be phenomenal. She has the potential to be the best president Elon has ever had.”
Current SGA Executive President
To run or not to run
During her freshman year, Bodenarain couldn’t have predicted eventually running for executive president.
“It never crossed my realm of thought,” she said.
But once she became involved in the senate, she said she became aware of the power SGA holds and its potential to fix problems facing students. Last year, she was an instrumental force in drafting special resolutions, including one for students who were affected by House Bill 2.
With a plethora of ideas, Bodenarain chatted with Porro at the SGA retreat last semester and came away knowing what she wanted to do. He convinced her to run, but advised her to do it for the right reasons.
“I had to figure out why I wanted to do this and what I wanted to fix,” Bodenarain said. “You can’t go into an election blind. I knew I was passionate about a lot of things, but I had to narrow that down to what the students wanted.”
Coming up with her platform
One of the first people Bodenarain confided in during the early stages of planning was junior Spencer Wagner. The two developed a close bond while on SGA’s senate together, and both are heavily involved in their political science and policy studies majors. When she first told him she would run, Wagner said he was shocked. But after those initial feelings subsided, he said he would do everything in his power to help her win.
“After she and I talked and I knew why she was running, my second thought was, ‘OK, let me help her in any way I can,’” Wagner said. “She obviously has the mindset and the heart for it and cares about Elon and the campus climate. So I was really excited when she told me that she was completely ready to do it.”
The duo strategically placed thought and effort into Bodenarain’s plan of attack. She had a running list of ideas, but Wagner told her to focus solely on the issues that affected numerous sects of campus. Bodenarain said that without Wagner she would not have been as productive.
“Besides being emotional support and being my best friend, Spencer was definitely someone I could bounce ideas off of,” Bodenarain said. “He would give me great advice like, ‘Hey, let’s have a strong social media presence’ and then jumping off that and starting a video campaign. He helped me organize my thoughts.”
The ideas they birthed were two-fold. The first was creating a universal message and the second was dissipating that message to campus. Her platform consisted of three main topics: increased SGA participation, inclusivity and creating school spirit. After that, she branded herself on social media, mainly by posting videos to Facebook and creating #MorganBforEP on Twitter.
Wagner said because of these plans, Bodenarain could focus more on bigger issues rather than trying to jumpstart her campaign.
“It didn’t take very long once she started thinking about certain things that she would put in her platform,” Wagner said. “Essentially, by setting up that campaign and the platform last semester and asking what she could do with social media, she already had everything she needed. It was then up to her to go make the student body believe in her.”
Dissecting the problems
While the other two topics on her platform where just as important, Bodenarain said the thing that motivated her the most was SGA involvement. This election, three executive positions — executive treasurer, executive secretary and executive vice president — were not campaigned for. SGA is still hiring for these positions. Because of this lack of participation, Bodenarain knew that, if elected, she would appoint her executive council.
Such a lack of enthusiasm in a vital part of campus irked Bodenarain. In most cases, SGA is the direct link between students and the administration, and the treasurer also allots money to every student organization. With so many positions up for grabs, Bodenarain said she was excited about the possibility of leading the charge.
“I was disappointed no one ran for those positions because I love SGA and I love Elon and I know SGA gets so many things done,” Bodenarain said. “I was driven to push my platform even more because it showed me that the only way to get people excited about SGA was to reach out to your constituents. This only reinforced my drive to campaign because if you win the election, you’re in a position to help make all the changes you want.”
To fix this problem, Bodenarain launched an application process for the top three vacant spots. She’s since picked junior Joe Arthur to serve as treasurer. In terms of filling out the senate as a whole, she’ll hold interviews with anyone who is interested, saying that process will give people who normally aren’t as involved in SGA a chance to get connected and voice their diverse opinions, which matters a lot to her personally.
Bodenarain was a key player in planning the Elon Ball and also helped brand the #OnePhoenix campaign. By curating a sense of camaraderie at sporting events and in general, she said she hopes student will feel more pride in their school. Regarding inclusivity, she said she’ll work with senior staff and minority students to create more legislation to tailor to their needs. Her mission was to present these ideas to as many organizations as possible. Because of this, her ideas began to spread.
“When I would go to these organizations, one of my strategies was to just to sit down and have a conversation with them about my platform,” Bodenarain said. “I wanted them to be as deep as possible because I wanted to hear their substantive comments. When people asked me questions, they were generally positive, and I think that helped.”
Porro was impressed with that aspect of Bodenarain’s campaign. He said many people can become lazy during elections and just focus on themselves and the problems they personally want. Being engaged helped Bodenarain’s cause, he said.
“She did a good job of trying to reach all aspects,” Porro said. “She personally may have had ideas that were more important to her, but the she had a wide range on her campaign platform.
“The student body president has to work for all of campus, and I think she will do that.”
The official changeover for SGA happens after Spring Break, but Bodenarain has begun in some limited roles by assisting Porro with budget hearings and constantly asking him questions. Though she said she is still preparing for the switch, Bodenarain said when she officially beings her term, she’ll be ready. She said she’s excited for the possibilities and ready to get to work on behalf of the students.
“The reason why I ran for this role is because I really want to represent the students and I feel I have ideas that can really help our campus,” Bodenarain said. “Even though it is a long way from now, I want the next president to have a campus that is a little better than when I found it, and I’ll do everything I can do give it to him.”