University, SG election results announced, tuition referendum also attached

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Newly elected business representative Sam Leonard and natural science representative Kenzie Spaniol celebrate their new positions.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Newly elected University and Student Government student representatives celebrated the end of their campaigns at the announcement of campus-wide student election results Thursday.

Election Supervisory Board chair Eric Nimmer announced the results of the campus-wide general election Thursday night in front of the Tower. Winners included Daily Texan editor-in-chief Susannah Jacob, Graduate Student Assembly President Michael Redding, board members for the University Co-op and University Unions, the student members of Texas Student Media’s board of trustees and Student Government’s University-wide and college representatives.

The elections for president and vice president did not go forward this week after former candidates Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara filed a lawsuit against the University on Tuesday to challenge their disqualification. A Travis County judge issued a temporary restraining order postponing the elections for at least two weeks.

Melinda Sutton, deputy to the Dean of Students and SG advisor, said SG did not know how voter turnout would be affected by the disqualification of two executive alliances.

According to the voter count totals provided by the Office of the Dean of Students, there was a lower turnout this year, but the count did not drastically decrease from last year’s election total votes, which included votes for executive alliances.

The voting system does not calculate the total number of students who cast votes, but it does show the number of votes each candidate and position received.

“We believed it could have gone either way,” Sutton said. “Sometimes bringing more attention to elections could increase voter participation or instead, some may not choose to participate.”

Newcomer JD Weinstein, communication studies senior, was elected as a University-wide representative. Weinstein said he was initially worried about voter turnout but knew it would not affect the results dramatically.

“Whether we were first or last on the list of the eight elected University-wide representatives, the voters still came out and gave us these results,” he said. “I think there are a lot of ideas that will be provided by the new team.”

Weinstein also said he was excited to help with the issues that the current assembly will leave behind and use student opinion to move forward.

One of the night’s winners, communication studies junior Robert Milligan, will serve as an SG representative for the College of Communication next year and said he will work with students and consider any suggestions they may provide.

“I want to work to close the gap between college representatives and students,” he said. “I will not use my platform as a checklist, but instead work beyond it.”

Milligan, assistant director of Hook the Vote, said he is continuing his work on an initiative for American Sign Language certification for students, which he began before running for SG.

Kornel Rady, government freshman and incoming liberal arts representative, said he was nervous about campaigning with his platform as a focus on a college-wide level.

“This was much different than the first-year representative election, which was essentially restricted to campaigning online and in Jester,” he said. “I was just hoping my message would be received by the student body in a sufficient fashion.”

Rady said he will continue his work in SG by lobbying the Faculty Council for a fall break through a resolution passed by SG last month that he co-authored. Rady also said he will work toward improving the University smart phone application to include SG newsletters and resolutions in order to improve transparency.

History junior Susannah Jacob was elected as editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan and said she is looking forward to working with the newspaper staff.

“I am excited to continue the tradition of excellence at the paper and welcome any new ideas,” she said. “I am prepared to work with Texas Student Media on any developments that may be brought up for the following year.”

There were no candidates for representative of the School of Undergraduate Studies, the School of Social Work, the College of Pharmacy and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. A representative was elected for each of the schools during last year’s election, but none of them received more than 300 votes.

The results of a tuition referendum attached to the SG ballot were also announced. Sixty-four percent of participating students voted in opposition of a proposed 2.6 percent tuition increase over the next two years and 71 percent of students voted against budgets cuts to University program and services. About 4,600 students participated in each vote.

John Lawler, urban studies senior and SG presidential candidate, was the main author of the much-debated referendum and said the results illustrated the official opinion of the student body.

“The results show that previous recommendations made by the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee on behalf of students were totally off-base,” he said. “I am not pointing blame at University administrators but instead at student leaders.”

Lawler said regents and administrators should use the results of the referendum to advocate for more state funding instead of increasing tuition or cutting any budgets.

Printed on Friday, March 2, 2012 as: Student election results announced