Steven Svatek

Student Government Executive Alliance candidates

Student Government Executive Alliance candidates Braydon Jones, second from left, and Kimia Dargahi, far left, will compete against fellow candidates and Texas Travesty editors Xavier Rotnofsky, second from right, and Rohit Mandalapu, far right, in a runoff election next week as neither alliance received over 50 percent of the vote.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith and Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

After a University-wide Student Government election in which no executive alliance ticket captured over 50 percent of the vote, candidates Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi will enter a runoff election against Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu.

The Jones-Dargahi alliance received 46.34 percent of the student vote, and Rotnofsky-Mandalapu received 26.9 percent. The other two executive alliances on the ballot, David Maly and Steven Svatek and Baylor Morrison and Matthew Normyle, received a combined total of 26.74 percent. 

Student Government presidential candidates Xavier Rotnofsky and Braydon Jones walk into the election room, hand-in-hand. Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

“We’re not as nervous anymore,” Rotnofsky, associate editor at humor publication Texas Travesty, said. “Surprised, for sure. … I’m pretty sure this has been the most successful [Texas Travesty] campaign ever. Travesty alumns have reached out to us and said they loved the campaign. That’s been the best reward.”

The Texas Travesty, a humor publication, enters a team in SG elections each year. 

Jones, who has described himself as the candidate with the most Student Government experience, said he is optimistic about his team’s odds for the runoff election.

“Our numbers looked great the first time,” Jones said. “We’re going to do exactly what we’ve been doing.”

Nicholas Molina, Election Supervisory Board chair, said it was difficult to predict the results of the Executive Alliance race in advance. 

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a surprise,” Molina said. “[Both teams have] been campaigning so well.”

According to Molina, 9,108 votes were cast in the election, an increase of 14 percent in voter turnout over last spring.

Arjun Mocherla, an agent on Jones and Dargahi’s campaign, said the run-off will allow more time to get student input for their platform. 

“Obviously, we’d love to win [the election] straight out, but Xavier and Rohit are hilarious guys,” Mocherla said. “This is a great opportunity to continue to meet students on campus and see what students need.”  

Texas Travesty editor-in-chief Chris Gilman said he attributes Rotnofsky and Mandalapu’s success to reaching out to smaller and more diverse groups of students.

“I think they’re taking all the right moves,” Gilman said. “They’re talking to all the right people … and taking it day-by-day.”

Maly-Svatek received 1,161 votes, and Morrison-Normyle received 1,009. Morrison-Normyle said Sunday they were going to withdraw from the race, but, according to Molina, the duo never officially removed themselves from the ballot.

“I’ve heard two people say they were confused about why Baylor and Matthew were still on the ballot … that those thousand would have turned the election,” Molina said. “The correct answer for that, is that even though Baylor [Morrison] and Matthew [Normyle] expressed to [The Daily Texan] that they were dropping out, they never officially dropped out.”

Jones said Morrison-Normyle being on the ticket may have impacted the results.

“With Baylor and Matthew withdrawing and still being on the ballot, some people may have gotten confused and messed up the numbers,” Jones said.

Morrison said he does not think having his and Normyle’s name on the ballot affected the outcome of the election and said that he was pleased with the results.

“I don’t think it affected the vote,” Morrison said. “It’s the happiest I’ve ever been for fourth place.”

Maly congratulated the runoff teams and said he enjoyed campaigning for the election. 

“It was an interesting race and a good learning experience,” Maly said.

Jones-Dargahi and Rotnofsky-Mandalapu will be allowed to spend an additional $150 each on campaigning. The two teams will compete in the runoff election March 11–12. 

For a full list of election results, check out our infographic:

Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu compete in the executive alliance debate against candidates David Maly, Steven Svatek, Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi in the Union Ballroom on Monday night.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

At the Student Government candidate debate Monday night, executive alliance candidates discussed how to make SG more inclusive to students on campus.

Fifteen percent of the student body voted in SG elections last year — something all candidates mentioned during the debate.

Candidates David Maly and Steven Svatek, as well as Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu, said the number is not high enough. Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi said the number reflects the national and statewide election turnout, although they said more can be done to increase voter turnout.

“There are things we need to fix,” Jones said. “Let’s keep in mind that this is a similar problem we’re facing in the United States as well.”

Jones said the national voter turnout is a good indication that student voter turnout is on the right track.

“Fifteen percent of students turned out to vote in last year’s election, as similarly, 17 percent of people voted in national elections and midterms last year,” Jones said. “We’re spot-on.”

Maly and Svatek both said 15 percent was not representative enough of the students on campus.

“Hardly anybody I know has ever participated in Student Government in any way,” Svatek said. “The fact that only [15] percent voted last year is terrible. I feel like the biggest problem Student Government has is inclusivity.”

Mandalapu said the biggest issue SG faces is “being relevant to 90 percent of the school” and reaching out to smaller student groups.

“You would be wrong if you said Student Government wasn’t heavily [composed of] spirit groups and Greek life — that’s a big demographic group,” Mandalapu said. “I feel like there are times when certain minority groups aren’t reached out to, and they don’t get full representation in Student Government.”

The candidates unanimously agreed that sexual assault awareness needed to be increased on campus.  

“There are serious issues with how UT records [assault] incidents,” Maly said. “We need to revamp the system.”

Jones and Dargahi suggested bringing in sexual assault awareness campaigns to UT, using social media and increasing awareness of preexisting campaigns.

“We need to raise awareness about existing sexual assault prevention programs at UT, like Rape Aggression Defense classes,” Jones said.

Mandalapu said UT could implement programs, such as ones similar to AlcoholEdu, to increase sexual assault awareness. AlcoholEdu is an alcohol awareness program all UT students are required to complete before starting at the University. 

Voting begins March 4 and ends March 5.