Before election results could be announced, a representative of Student Government Association (SGA) publicized that the results of the vice-presidential race would not be announced on schedule. The three candidates for vice-president included, at the time, Charles Miles, Marisa Daniels and Dan Rossiter. Rossiter was disqualified from the race by the judicial branch of SGA for using the Computer Science Department e-mail to spread word about the election. The Election Code of SGA prohibits the use of university email in campaigning.
Rossiter made the following statement in a press release on his campaign website:
“I regret to inform all of my supporters from the past three weeks that I was disqualified from the Vice Presidential race on March 22, leaving Miles and Daniels to compete in a runoff election… I wish both of the remaining candidates the very best of luck.”
In the runoff election between the two candidates, Miles received 39 percent of the vote, while Daniels received only 25 percent, leaving Miles as the winner of the runoff election for SGA vice president.
SGA elections saw 1,302 students vote, out of the 29,138 students enrolled at UTSA, leaving election results in the hands of only 4.47 percent of eligible student voters.
A crowd gathered at the University Center on March 22 in the Paseo to find out who would lead the school during fall 2012-spring 2013 academic year. Over the past few weeks, SGA candidates campaigned around campus asking students for their vote. The candidates ranged from senators wanting to represent the different year classifications to representatives of each college, to the top executive board-which includes the secretary, treasurer, vice president and president.
Andie Watson, a sophomore communication major, won the election for SGA Secretary with 99 percent of the vote while running unopposed. Watson joined SGA in the fall of 2011 and has been a senator since October. She has devoted her time in SGA to such endeavors as the University Advancement Committee, which has been concentrating on bringing a farmer’s market to the UTSA campus.
The decision to run for a position on the executive board of SGA was not an easy one for Watson. Before making an official decision, Watson consulted with current SGA secretary Kareena Kirlew. According to Watson, the current secretary assured her she “would be a good fit” and “had the right qualifications.”
Watson chose fellow SGA member Roger Cardenas as her campaign manager. Cardenas advised Watson to reach out to groups and organizations on campus and, as a result, received several official endorsements. However, since she was running unopposed, Watson’s main focus was to encourage UTSA students to vote, and went door to door with other candidates.
When the election results were announced, Watson expressed her sentiment by saying, “the announcement did not come as a huge surprise because I was the only candidate, but it was exciting nonetheless!”
As the future SGA secretary, Watson’s job will be to increase transparency.
“I will be in charge of posting the minutes and events to Collegiatelink. I will also be in charge of keeping the Student Government Association website, that Kareena (Kirlew) set up, up to date.”
In the next year, Watson would like to see all her hard work payoff in the form of a farmer’s market on campus. As secretary, she hopes that students become more familiar with SGA and that they more readily voice their opinions.
Darnell Thomas, a senior accounting major, who also received 99 percent of the votes in his category, will be the fall 2012-spring 2013 SGA treasurer. When asked what made him want to run for treasurer of the SGA, Thomas responded by saying he wanted to make a difference.
“I wanted to have a position from which I could have a greater impact on the students; going from the Senate to the Executive board gave me that leeway to do more for the student body,” Thomas said.
Thomas ran for treasurer specifically because of his passion for accounting and finance and was benefited by his work as Business Affairs Co-Chair with Dining Services.
The future treasurer’s campaign platform included working to fix technological issues on campus-such as AirRowdy, BlackBoard and the library laptops-as well as increasing SGA visibility and accessibility to students by cosponsoring events with other campus organizations and expanding LeaderFund to benefit more student organizations.
Like his colleague Watson, Thomas also ran unopposed.
“It definitely made it easier. I still made sure to put posters and flyers up so that people would know who their Treasurer was and to publicize the elections themselves, as well as talking to multiple student organizations and leaders on campus,” Thomas said after being asked about how he chose his campaign style.
As the incoming treasurer, Thomas hopes to accomplish everything he campaigned on, specifically his goals to expand the LeaderFund and increased SGA cosponsored events.
As an organization funded by tuition and fees, students can expect their money to be invested to their benefit.
“We are funded by student fees, we are here to serve the students, and that’s exactly what I want to do,” Thomas said when responding to the question of where SGA money will go. “Expanding the LeaderFund gives the opportunity for more students to go to leadership conferences, hosting cosponsored events gives smaller organizations the opportunity to collaborate with us and host an event that could boost their membership and visibility on campus.”
In a close race of 55 to 44 percent, incumbent Xavier Johnson was re-elected as SGA president.
“Going into a secon
d term I have built networks with the administration, I have established myself in various organizations, and I can learn from mistakes made during the past administration,” Johnson said.
The race for president was one of the closest in the SGA election. Johnson, a junior sociology major/legal studies minor, ran against Travis Merriweather, whose campaign was also highly visible on campus. Johnson believes the election was close because there were, “two quality candidates running which tends to lead to close elections. Travis was a really good candidate, and he certainly put in the work during the election times.”
In an era of social media defined by instant information sharing, the Johnson campaign made use of different Facebook features, even creating memes on the UTSA Memes Facebook page. Johnson also spread the word by utilizing traditional grassroots campaigning by going to student organization meetings, as well as tabling to pass out flyers. Johnson did have some difficulties while campaigning.
“Reaching out to a larger student demographic than I had in the past as well as convincing some students who didn’t believe in voting that it was the best way to ensure their voice could be heard,” Johnson said about the difficulties of running his campaign.
In his current term as President, Johnson helped head such initiatives as bringing alcohol to the Chili’s on campus, finalizing by-laws to the Green Fund and being elected Chairman of the University of Texas System Student Advisory Council. As Chairman, Johnson convinced the administration to build a Starbucks at the Downtown campus and increase tailgating space at the Alamodome. Johnson also helped shed light on and correct a FERPA (Federal Education Right to Privacy Act) violation in which students’ personal information was accessed by unauthorized persons on ASAP.
As a soon-to-be senior, Johnson hopes that the Downtown Campus Starbucks will be one of his legacies; he also aims to expand the shuttle system before his new term is over.