Student Government Association SGA general elections, held on Thursday, March 7, put a new set of student faces in power for the 2013-2014 academic year.
John Schwirtz ’14 and Wendy Raymond ’14 were elected president and vice president of SGA, beating their opponents, Gina Tonn ’14 and Nick Stumo-Langer ’15, by a mere 19 votes the final tally was 642-623.
“[Tonn and Stumo-Langer] were very strong candidates, and it was a pleasure to face them in the election,” Schwirtz said. “We worked very hard and the work showed, but we’re thankful we did everything we did in our campaign because literally every vote counted when it came down to the wire.”
After taking a weekend off, the newly-elected team will already begin training this week. They will meet with the current President Catherine Haines ’13 and Vice President Matt Alveshere ’13 to begin the transition process. Eventually, they will look into hiring an executive staff and start planning for the year to come.
“We’re thankful for everyone who supported us, but we intend to do our absolute best to represent everybody, whether or not they voted for us,” Schwirtz said. “We’re going to do our best to make sure that SGA is successful not just next year, but for years to come.”
Besides the election of student government positions, the ballot also gave SGA a window into the student body’s view on the recent tobacco debate that has risen up on campus. A referendum at the bottom of the ballot asked whether students would support a tobacco-free environment at St. Olaf. The results were relatively equal, with 518 students voting “yes” and 568 voting “no.”
“Regarding the referendum, the campus is really divided, so it’s not conclusive,” Haines said. “At this point, SGA won’t take any further steps, although I assume the nursing department will look at the numbers and student opinion for the future.”
The current SGA president and vice president noted that this spring election seemed more active than years past. Alveshere noted that the number of candidates who had to go through the primaries was almost “unheard of.”
Haines agreed, adding, “It’s usual for most of the positions to be uncontested. We were surprised that there were so many contested races. There was also very active campaigning, not just posters, but a lot of Facebook activity as well.”
A total of 1,668 students voted this spring, which is an increase in participation from the fall elections.
Election Commissioner Brian Finks ’13 said that while the number of student voters was similar to previous years, the increase in social media use made it difficult to completely monitor the campaigns.
“The use of Facebook, Twitter and Tightrope are campaign platforms that have been added to the policy manual in recent years and are continually being edited,” Finks said. “We generally just ask that candidates ‘keep it classy,’ and, for the most, part candidates do follow this request.”
The newly elected student government officials are as follows:
SGA President and Vice-President
John Schwirtz ’14 and Wendy Raymond ’14
Erin Hynes ’15
William Raun ’14
Bailey Williams ’16
Kayla Dharampaul ’15
Connor Petersen ’14
The Pause Co-Coordinator
Shane Allen ’14 and Becca Strommen ’14
Rachel Palermo ’15
John Bruer ’16
Dan Frankenfeld ’15
Anna Christianson ’14
Student Life Committee Senator
Kyle Obermann ’14
Faculty Life Committee Senator
Mitch Kampf ’15
Curriculum Committee Senator
Evan Davis ’15
Faculty Governance Committee Senator
Stephen Crouser ’15
Alesa Boyle ’14
Sonja Smerud ’14