Wes Draper took the eighth position for University-wide representative in a runoff election Thursday, after an additional week of campaigning since last week’s campus-wide elections.
Draper, an undeclared sophomore, and government sophomore John Brown both received 2,080 votes last week. Draper won the runoff election with 54.49 percent of the vote. According to Election Supervisory Board chairman Ryan Lutz, 2,090 students voted Wednesday and Thursday. This is about four times greater than the 507 students who voted in the Graduate Student Assembly election.
“We didn’t expect this high of a voter turnout, but we’re absolutely pleased it was that high,” Lutz said. “That means a lot of students cared about that position.”
Lutz said he was surprised there was a runoff election for a representative position.
“If there are more than two executive alliances, it will almost always go into a runoff, but for a representative position, something like that has not happened for as long as I can remember,” Lutz said.
As an incoming University-wide representative, Draper said he plans to make transferring to colleges more accessible for current students at the University. As a student in the School of Undergraduate Studies, he said he has found it difficult to transfer into another college.
“Just because you’re at UT doesn’t mean as much as it used to, which is kind of silly in itself to keep enrolling large masses and just throw them into the feeder program — UGS,” Draper said.
Draper said he hopes to create a program that would make it easier for students to enroll in their first choice college after they’ve enrolled at the University.
“If I had one goal next year, it would be to really make those programs more accessible to students who are at UT,” Draper said.
Draper, a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and Cru, a ministry for college students, said he also hopes to bring the student body together outside of student organizations.
“Because of the size of the University, it forces people into groups to find some sort of acceptance and unity,” Draper said.
Draper cited Student Government’s push for a campus-wide homecoming and tailgating in a specific location before athletic events as effective ways to increase student involvement.
Brown, who is currently a representative for the College of Liberal Arts, said he was glad it was a close race and plans to do what he can to stay active in SG.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Brown said. “I can’t complain. I’d rather it be interesting than boring.”
Sara LeStrange, communications manager for the Office of the Dean of Students, said the department worked to make sure there were no problems with the voting website for the runoff election. During last week’s elections, the website crashed 15 minutes before polls closed, resulting in voting being extended for an hour and 45 minutes.
“Technical difficulties happen,” LeStrange said. “There was a glitch. It was repaired and it was really an unfortunate issue of timing.”