The voting is over, and the student body has elected a new president and vice president.
Frank Harrison and running mate Faran Abbasi defeated opponents Ben Sens and Ernest “E.J.” Joe in Student Government’s runoff election by a vote count of 1,727 to 1,528, Election Rules Commission Director Cindy Lorenzo announced Wednesday night. According to Lorenzo, a total of 3,261 students voted in the runoff election. The figures provided by Lorenzo don’t add up but the results will likely stand, as the difference between the totals is a mere six votes.
A total of 3,361 votes were cast in the March 1 presidential election this year, down more than 1,500 from last year’s total of 4,946. This year’s runoff turnout experienced a similar decline, dropping by approximately 800 votes when compared to last year’s runoff turnout of 4,098.
The lower voter turnout is indicative of the apathy many students feel toward the affairs of SG, and when the past semester is considered, it’s hard to assign blame to the students. The second semester of Maxon Victor’s presidency has seen an SG rife with controversy that is perhaps best represented by the weeks-long dispute in and out of the SG senate that resulted in the allocation of $30,000 of Activity & Service fees for a concert to be held during Greek Week. The Oracle received an unprecedented number of letters on the divisive issue, as dozens of students and SG members wrote in to voice their opinions and concerns. The increased level of passion and debate in SG is commendable, but the discussions were marred by accusations of corruption and favoritism.
In an interview with the Oracle’s Managing Editor John Calkins, Harrison said the way to fight student apathy is by “showing students how effective and how helpful their Student Government can be to them.”
His term as president will be a chance to back up those words and silence his detractors.
As Harrison also said in the interview, “The University can get better or worse depending on who’s in office and how effective they are.”
Harrison has served as a senator, officer and as senate president, so inexperience is of no concern. Ideally, things will get better – anything else will breed further apathy.