MCSG added new members to its ranks this week following the Monday and Tuesday election period. Jolena Zabel ’16 was elected as the new Vice President/SSRC chair after Seth Loeffler-Kemp ’17 resigned from the seat to take an internship in Washington, D.C. this semester. The incoming first-year class elected Marco Hernandez ’19, Nikhita Jain ’19, Carl Liu ’19, Taneeya Rele ’19 and Jensen Vu ’19. Aarohi Narain ‘18 and Merritt Stüven ’17 are the new sophomore and junior representatives.
“I felt a combination of excitement and humility,” Zabel said in an email of learning that she had won the election. “It’s always an honor to be chosen by your peers, and it’s also a responsibility. At the end of the day, I’m absolutely thrilled to be back on MCSG.”
Last semester, Zabel had campaigned unsuccessfully for the position of MCSG president. “My top priorities are to get plugged in with the rest of MCSG and officially reach out to the Macalester student body. Then I hope to work with Ian and the rest of MCSG to lay out an ambitious agenda for the year. This is going to be a great year for the Macalester community and for MCSG, but it will take a lot of concerted listening and planning to get there.”
With nearly 650 (before the voter validation process) students voting in the election, the VP voter turnout was higher than most Macalester special elections. Conversely, the turnout for the sophomore representatives was around 120 students.
“My first year, our voter turnout was like 284,” SOC chair Suveer Daswani ’18 said of the sophomore rep election. “And this one was approximately 120 to 140, which is approximately half of the people who had voted.”
There were other surprising moments during this fall’s elections.
When the only junior officially running for the position dropped from the race, Stüven began campaigning as a write-in candidate, to obvious success. Five of the eight representatives voted in were female. The candidate forum also had a high turnout, which Daswani said was remarkable.
“That’s something we haven’t really witnessed before,” Daswani said. “We had a whole lot of people. I think it was around 50 or 60 people at the debate, which was very enlightening and very nice to see because we haven’t had that in the past.”
MCSG also took steps to ensure that the new first years were fully committed to campaigning and being on the ballot for the representative positions by keeping them informed with a steady flow of candidate information. “There were fewer candidates on the ballot [this year]. Last year there were a lot of candidates on the ballot, and the year before there were a lot of candidates on the ballot. But this year we really wanted to make sure that the candidates that were on the ballot wanted to be on the ballot,” MCSG President Ian Calaway ’16 said of this fall’s election. “This year we had ten [first-year] candidates, all of whom were very, very interested for the first-year positions. They were all campaigning pretty strongly.”
In the past, said Calaway, the ballot would often be copied from the filing list for candidates, which meant that students would change their minds between the filing and election periods, but their names would still appear on the official ballots. Following up consistently with all the candidates ensured that more students were committed to running for MCSG.
“We have probably the youngest exec board in a long time, and that’s been really exciting, but I’m pretty excited about Jolena coming and having another person who has a lot of not just MCSG experience but Macalester experience, being able to come in and really complete the team,” Calaway said.
Along with the completed Executive Board, other steps to getting MCSG off the ground will be their retreat this weekend and a look at revamping and reworking their bylaws.
Zabel echoed the excitement of Daswani and Calaway, and was also eager to get to work.
“My first priority — which is shared by many members of MCSG — is fixing our less-than perfect student government system,” she said. “This involves updating bylaws, restructuring leadership roles, and making many changes to make MCSG a truly inclusive space. After that, I can’t wait to see what can happen. Imagine! The ideas and passions of this community paired with adequate funding, support and advocacy from MCSG. It’s going to be amazing.”