Thursday 24th April 2014,
The Transcript

Newly elected WSCA reps challenge campaign norms

Staff November 16, 2012 News No Comments

By Margaret Bagnell
and Spenser Hickey
Transcript Reporter and Correspondent

Last Friday, juniors Martin Clark and Tim O’Keeffe were elected the next president and vice president of the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs.They defeated two other candidate pairs: juniors Ariel Koiman and Anthony Fisher, and junior Andrew Paik and sophomore Memme Onwudiwe.

Clark and O’Keeffe will be joined on the executive committee by their two sophomore running mates, Maria Urbina and Lauren Holler, who were elected secretary and treasurer.
Urbina ran unopposed, while Holler defeated juniors Peter Reveles and Saar Rajpuria.

Clark said the decision to reach out and meet with campus organizations benefitted his campaign.

“(Meeting with organizations) put us in a good position to win,” Clark said.

He also attributed their success to their social media and word of mouth campaigns, as well as getting the freshman class involved.

Paik said while the result wasn’t what he’d hoped for, he wasn’t surprised by who won the election.

“Martin and Tim were the front runners from the start,” Paik said. “They had a very large base of supporters, and coupled with the support they’d get from Maria and Lauren’s supporters, we had (our) work cut out for us.”

Although Fisher said he was surprised by the outcome, he has confidence in Clark and O’Keeffe’s abilities.

“The students voted on who they felt will do the best job and work for them,” said Fisher. “I know Martin and Tim will do a good job.”

Paik, Fisher and Koiman said they thought the new system started by Clark and O’Keeffe—combining their campaign with those of secretary and treasurer—should not continue.
Paik said he was unaware of Urbina and Holler’s plans to run with Clark and O’Keeffe until they started campaigning, but if he’d known beforehand he’d have created a joint campaign of his own.

Paik said running against a joint campaign without having one was a “competitive disadvantage.”

Koiman said having the joint campaign was “an uphill battle” to compete against and “shut out” Rajpuria and Reveles, who weren’t endorsed.

Both Paik and Fisher said future joint campaigns would also hinder diversity among the WCSA executive committee.

Fisher said regular divided campaigns were beneficial to the campus because it allows for greater diversity.

“(Divided campaigns allow) more people from other social circles of campus a chance to be a part of WCSA,” he said.

Clark said he is not sure if the joint campaigns will continue. He said he, O’Keeffe, Urbina and Holler were already “very close” before they decided to run together.
“It was only natural that we decided to do this together,” he said.

WCSA candidates spent weeks campaigning their platforms to the student body and held a forum debate in the atrium of the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center on Nov. 7.
The debates were overseen by the current WCSA president and vice president, seniors Anthony McGuire and Carly Hallal.

Candidates were asked about what improvements could be made on campus and what changes could be implemented quickly. Clark and O’Keeffe claimed they wanted to be more active in the government and reach out to students to make a positive change in the university.

O’Keeffe ran for the position of vice president with a campaign strategy that reflected how OWU is a proactive community and Holler said she has already thought of ways to help club spending.

“I want to see the accountability for these clubs and make sure they do meet the guidelines by and checking up on the groups,” Holler said.

Junior Elise Pitcairn challenged the candidates once the forum opened up to the students.

“How are you all involved on campus already, and how do you plan to get more involved?” questioned Pitcairn.

The candidates were given the opportunity to respond by listing their accomplishments and involvement in other clubs.

SophomorePhilippe Chauveau also questioned the candidates during the debate.

“The majority of the students don’t know what the WCSA positions are running for and there is not very much publicity for the students to understand what you’re all about,” said Chauveau.

With the debates over, and the outcome of the election determined, students can expect to see the student government take a more active role in the community.
However, McGuire said only 24.9 percent of students voted in the election.

This number is a decrease in voter participation.

In 2011 25.3 percent voted, while 52.5 percent voted in 2010, the first year of online voting.

This drop came despite increased campaigning by all candidates, particularly via social networking and the candidate debate.

McGuire said the low number of voters was unexpected.

“I got the feeling that this campaign season was more passionate and fierce than last year’s or the year before,” McGuire said.

He said the drop may have been caused by internet problems; users of Google Chrome in particular reportedly had difficulty voting on their J/CX accounts.

The new WCSA governing body already said it has plans in motion to help the OWU community change for the better.

“We have already started to brainstorm on how to get things done properly in office. This semester I’d like to see a lot of changes made especially with housekeeping and the food on campus. Those are the two main issues we would like to make improvements on for the students.

We’re also going to start going to clubs bimonthly for their meetings and make ourselves more well known in the OWU community, especially to the many clubs on campus,” said O’Keeffe.

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