VIK SHIRVAIKAR With the campus-wide student government elections approaching on Wednesday, March 2nd and Thursday, March 3rd, candidates for office have begun their campaigns in earnest, hoping to spread their messages to students across campus. Since the official start of campaigning on the morning of Wednesday, February 17th, they have been busily managing social media, tabling, and talking to student organizations in their attempts to secure as many votes as possible.
Aaron Arnett, a current first-year representative, says the hardest part of campaigning is reaching students from a diverse base. “The most important thing is having a platform that bridges the gap between different colleges,” says Arnett. “You need a message that speaks to a wide array of students.” Arnett also pointed out the complexity involved in presidential campaigns. “To have a successful campaign, there’s a lot of planning and work that goes on months in advance,” he says. “I definitely admire the amount of effort the candidates are putting in to get their voice heard and make the university a better place.”
In the race for student body president and vice president, the early momentum seems to be with Kevin Helgren and Binna Kim, whose campaign video received 19,000 views in just the first day. Their slogan of “Share Your Story”, which has already inspired hundreds of students across UT, focuses on how individuals’ personal stories can be brought together to “create positive change on campus”. However, winning the election will be no easy task, as they face opposition from three other tickets. First are Kallen Dimitroff and Jesse Guadiana. Some of their platform points include “Food Justice” (ensuring healthy options and transparency from UT food-service providers) and “Recruitment and Retention” (connecting first-generation students with resources to help them finish college in four years).
Also running are Jonathan Dror and Delisa Shannon, whose platform includes encouraging students to attend UT sporting events and helping student-athletes better integrate into the student body (“Longhorn Fever”) as well as building connections between diverse student groups (“Campus Plug”). The final ticket is Daniel James Chapman and Austin James Robinson. With an edgy slogan and campaign materials that address serious issues in a light-hearted manner, their platform includes points such as “Real Inclusivity” to create a safer campus climate and “Addressing Mental Health” to improve mental health awareness and resources.
It is worth noting that presidential candidates need a majority of the vote to actually win in the first round – if no ticket reaches 50%, a runoff election will be held a week later between the top two tickets. This rule had massive consequences as recently as last year, when Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu actually finished 2nd in the first round of voting with only 26.9%, but received more than double that number in the runoff – 59.3% of the vote – to win the election.
Besides the race for president and vice president, all positions in the Student Government Assembly are up for election, including 8 university-wide representative positions and 33 college-specific representative positions. Also being contested are a variety of positions such as Daily Texan Editor-in-Chief and University Co-op Board of Directors. The full list of candidates can be found at the Dean of Students website. Elections will be held Wednesday, March 2nd, and Thursday, March 3rd. Make sure to log on and vote!