U First ticket wins SG election amid higher voter turnout

Rafael Cariello (left) and Evan De Joya (right) are the university's treasurer and president-elect respectively. Under the U First ticket, all three candidates, including vice president-elect Catherine De Freitas, swept the Student Government's Executive Branch positions. Photo credit: Matt Bernanke

Student Government election results were announced on Feb. 15. The U First ticket garnered hundreds of votes and will be installed in the positions of president, vice president and treasurer. A slew of new senators will also be representing the UM student body in the 2018-2019 academic year.

The results were announced on the Lakeside Patio after three full days of online voting. Juniors Evan De Joya, Catherine De Freitas and Rafael Cariello, running under the U First ticket, were elected as president, vice president and treasurer, respectively.

For De Joya, being named the new incoming SG president was something that fulfilled his goals for his last year of college.

“A lot of my experiences in Student Government have empowered me to see how change can be made,” De Joya said. “I really wanted to spend my last year here at UM helping to make some of those changes and leave the campus a better place.”

The U First ticket built its platform around creating a more transparent and accessible Student Government. The ticket promoted initiatives such as increasing the variety of on-campus dining options, modifying university-wide attendance policy to treat job interviews as excused absences and subsidizing students’ Uber and Lyft rides.

“We didn’t run on a platform that was showy,” said Cariello, the incoming treasurer. “We didn’t run on a platform that was flashy. We ran on a platform that we believed in. Everything on our platform we fully expect to work on and get done.”

U First’s sweep of the executive positions up for vote was expected as the ticket ran virtually unopposed despite another ticket’s name on the ballot. The We Got You ticket candidates, Matthew Wenstrom, Ashlyn Coleman and Nishan Ravichandran, dropped out of the race and campaigning events.

However, while constituents could vote by ticket in the election, they could also vote by individual positions or write in candidates. Elections Commission Chairman Luis Goberna said the U First ticket obtained 741 votes, or 92.66 percent, of the 809 students who did vote by ticket. Some students did vote for write ins and We Got You, Goberna said.

Student Government president-elect Evan De Joya (left) is taking over for President Adrian Nuñez (right) in April 2018 after being elected into office Feb. 15. Photo credit: Matt Bernanke

Executive positions were not the only ones up for vote in the election. There were eight seats up for election in SG Senate, including School of Communication, Business School, College of Arts and Sciences, Commuter and Transfer student seats.

Jasmin Dakkak won a hotly-contested seat, with six candidates running, to become the new senator for the Business School. Dakkak defeated incumbent David Tzeel.

Alexander LaBarbera and Micah Council were elected as the two new senators for the College of Arts and Sciences while Marsiol Fernandez, Amanda Lopez-Cardet and Katie Kean were announced as the new Commuter Senators.

Abigail Bryman, the candidate running for the School of Communication seat, was disqualified after not submitting the mandatory financial report statement of no expense. Financial report statements detailing the candidates’ expenses from campaigning were due by 10 a.m. on Feb. 14, the last day of voting.

One student who registered to run for the transfer student seat was disqualified after failing to attend the mandatory candidates meeting before graphic campaigning began – leaving both the School of Communication and Transfer senator positions to be filled by special appointment. The Speaker of the Senate will work with the Senate Council to fill these positions.

In total, 1017 students voted in the executive seats election, Goberna said. Though he didn’t have an exact number, he said most of the students who voted for Senate also probably voted in the executive race too.

Goberna said the turnout far exceeded last year’s 776 votes. The election commission started several new initiatives this year to increase voter turnout, such as putting up banners and tabling in the Breezeway to encourage students to vote, advertising the elections on Facebook and before screenings at the Cosford Cinema and offering 24-hour voting online.

“We are trying our best to get as many people involved that want to run, though we don’t want to force people to run,” Goberna said.

Correction, 1:38 p.m., Mar. 5, 2018: The headline of this article previously stated that this election has record-setting turnout. It has been updated to reflect the fact that the school record of votes was cast in 2014 at 2,934 votes.