Student Senate co-presidential elections were held Monday, March 9 outside the Marketplace. Thirty-one percent of eligible voters (743 out of 2404) turned out. Candidates were Sean Tessmer and Nick Harper, Andrew Nelson and Emily Thayer and Matt Olson and Derek Holm. Also on the ballot was a measure to increase student activity fees by ten dollars, which passed with 74 percent of the vote.
Olson and Holm were elected co-presidents with 41 percent (301 votes), followed by Thayer and Nelson with 32 percent (239 votes) and Tessmer and Harper with 25 percent (189 votes).
“The competition this year was strong, and I think Matt and I really put forth a good, honest effort to get our voices heard and our faces out there for the students to decide,” said Junior Management Major and Co-President Elect Derek Holm.
Now that the election is over, Holm is excited to start working on policies. “There’s a lot the Senate can do as a whole, and I want to know exactly what students think needs to be addressed immediately. Our platform contains lots of great ideas, such as improving Senate’s financial situation or reworking the Dive. I’m really curious to hear what types of policies students want us to look at,” said Holm. “I want students to know that Matt and I are here to listen to what they want to see done. Feel free to stop either of us in the halls if you have ideas to talk about, or send us an e-mail at email@example.com.”
“I wish Matt and Derek luck and look forward to seeing what they do over the next year,” said Sophomore Religion and Political Science Major and Co-Presidential Candidate Sean Tessmer.
A bit of controversy occurred just days before the election when the Harper and Tessmer campaign distributed pamphlets on tables in the Evelyn Young Dining Room sometime on Friday afternoon without getting the proper approval from the Student Activities Office. Not only were the pamphlets wrongfully distributed, but they also contained false information.
The pamphlets stated that candidates Emily Thayer and Andrew Nelson were from Minnesota, when, in fact, Thayer is from Wisconsin and Nelson is originally from South Carolina.
The Election Committee determined sanctions in response to this violation. “The sanctions we decided on were to have the Tessmer/Harper Campaign remove all posters from the Campus Center one day early, to not allow the campaign to distribute campaign materials in front of the Campus Center on election day and to send out an e-mail alerting the student body of the violation,” said Student Senate Election Committee Chair and Senior Accounting Major Andrew Evenson.
“It is regrettable that the situation arose, but the rules exist to be applied equally to everyone. … It’s too bad that those problems even came about. I think it just distracted students from the real issues facing Gustavus,” said Junior Scandinavian Studies Major and Co-Presidential Candidate Andrew Nelson.
When asked if this violation affected the election results, Junior Political Science major and Co-Presidential Candidate Harper said, “It’s quite possible. I think Senate elections are too heavily influenced by voters being uninformed about the issues and critical matters. Too many students vote on who has the fanciest posters, or they vote for their friend or what a single, vague e-mail says. Too many voters fail to become informed of all the candidates, their plans and their qualifications.”
Also voted on was a $10 increase in student government fee. The yes vote garnered 74 percent of students, while 26 percent voted no. According to an e-mail sent out by Evenson, “This voter-approved recommendation will now be given to the Budget Committee of the college for consideration.”
This fee would provide Student Senate with an extra $25,000 to give to student organizations and pay for student services.