BOOM dominates elections
Jay Benedict | Editor-in-Chief
Sydney Ward was half a country away, but she still cried after the results of last week’s Student Government Association election were announced.
Those results were announced Friday, April 20 in Russ Hall. Ward, Breaking Out of the Menagerie (BOOM) vice presidential candidate, and her running mate Lara Ismert defeated All Student Advocacy Party (ASAP) candidates, graduate students Kafui Alomenu and Edwin Stremel by 251 votes.
It was one of the few contested elections in recent years, and also featured SGA’s first formal debate. BOOM’s victory didn’t dampen Alomenu’s spirit.
“I’m passionate about this campus and am looking forward to being involved again in SGA next year,” Alomenu said. “Both parties had similar ideas concerning student involvement, and I am willing to work with the elected president and vice president.”
Ward was in Las Vegas for a student broadcasting conference. She relied on Ismert to pass along the news.
“On Saturday, I knew only 7 percent of students had voted and I was really nervous,” Ward said. “We didn’t know how much of that 7 percent was ours, but when Lara called me I screamed and cried, but then it hit me, ‘Where do we go now?’”
The answer was to start their work immediately. After Ismert and Ward received 552 of the 925 votes cast, they began the process of putting their cabinet together.
“We were excited, and still are, but now we have to get going. We’re already starting to build the team for next year,” Ismert said.
Things began moving quickly. The two women were sworn in last night. Cabinet applications are due today, and the interviews and appointments will be conducted during the next few days, so the new directors can be sworn in at the final SGA meeting of the year next Wednesday.
“We’ve already started setting the dates for big events and securing meeting space and Oval space for next year,” Ward said. “We want to hit the ground running when we get back next semester.”
They also started looking for ways to turn their campaign goals into realities. Ismert says one of the first things they’re tackling is getting the Scantons out of the SGA office.
“We’ll still pay for them, but we’re going to distribute them to departments around the campus,” Ismert said. “Hopefully, this will force SGA members to get out there to talk with students, instead of trying to talk to them when they come to us before a test.”
That’s the first phase in their plan to bridge the gap between SGA and its constituents. Ward says they have year-round plans to engage with students.
“We’re going to be in the Oval talking to students weekly, and adopt another service project for the Fall semester that will hopefully be as big as Big Event to keep campus involved,” Ward said. “SGA will be very involved with Rock the Vote as this year’s presidential election approaches to educate students about the candidates and issues.”
They plan on joining the university in its increasing commitment to sustainability. Ismert says PSU has good plans, but just getting more receptacles is not enough. She wants to put paper and plastic bins on every floor of every building.
“It’s a tall order, but if we subsidize the maintenance costs with student groups, we can show that the students will take responsibility, too,” Ismert said. “We can incentivize participation by reworking the allocations evaluation process to include groups’ participation in the program.”
Ismert says she’s ready to put all the plans into action.
“I’m excited for all our new senators and cabinet members to get going. We’ve got all the right people in place to achieve our goals if we work together for them,” Ismert said.
Ward says there’s great potential for positive change in the coming year.
“With all the building projects and increased student interest, PSU is at a great point to grow, change and expand. It’s an exciting time,” Ward said. “I want to leave a positive impact and legacy, and I think we’re the group to do that.”