At long last, the student senate election is here. It’s been a whirlwind of a campaign season that was supposed to end with an election on April 11. That initial date was pushed back to today after the Elections Commission admitted to having made procedural rule violations. The two parties in this year’s election are Mavericks Empowering Mavericks and Support Our Students (SOS). The Accountability Party is fielding a handful of senate candidates as well and the only candidate for CSU Board, but does not have a presidential/vice-presidential ticket. Several independent candidates are running for senate and independent MSSA boards, as well.
Mavericks Empowering Mavericks’ presidential candidate is Abdul-Aziz and its vice-presidential candidate is Kayla Cremers. SOS’ presidential candidate is Fred de Ruiter and its vice-presidential candidate is Jeremiah Kirch.
Abdul-Aziz is, among other things, an MSSA senator, Student Affairs Coordinator, and a Community Advisor in the Residence Halls. De Ruiter is the MSSA speaker and has been Student Affairs Coordinator and Residence Hall president in the past. Cremers is, among other things, an MSSA senator, the vice president of Conduct Review as well as Community Service and Philanthropy on the Panhellenic Council, and Co-President of Dance Marathon. Kirch has no previous MSSA experience, but he is the treasurer of Sigma Nu, he served as a floor representative in the Residence Hall Association, and began his own construction business after graduating high school.
The presidential candidates made a final pitch to students yesterday.
While campaigning yesterday in the CSU, Abdul-Aziz told the Reporter that “we will work to change how student government communicates with the students they represent.”
Improving communication between student senate and students has been an issue Mavericks Empowering Mavericks has highlighted throughout its campaign.
“We strongly believe that for MSSA to be a voice for students, students must be heard and actions must be taken in their best interests,” he says.
His party’s goal, he says, is to “empower Mavericks for success in their academic and personal endeavors.”
De Ruiter argues that a vote for SOS is a vote for concrete action. He says that his party “has outlined concrete things which we want to accomplish rather than just broad goals.”
He lays out a few examples. “We’re not saying that we just want to promote the bus service. We’re saying that we want more routes, we’re saying that we want more hours, we’re saying that we want the possibility for Sunday buses. We’re not just saying that we want to expand access for free feminine hygiene products. We’re saying that we will get free feminine hygiene products in the CSU and possibly the rest of campus.”
SOS’ campaign has homed in on two primary issues. “Keep the free lot free,” which refers to the free parking lot on Stadium Road, has been a rallying cry of the party. De Ruiter has also declared that he and all party members will give up their salaries if elected. The money will be used to make the Bullpen free for students on Fridays.
In the past week, both parties have been active online.
SOS released a video featuring de Ruiter laying out his case overlaid with drone shots from above the free lot and scenes from the bullpen.
“I want to improve communication between students and student government. Your opinions matter and they matter to me,” says de Ruiter as he releases a bowling ball in the Bullpen bowling alley. “If elected, I will donate my entire presidential salary to the Bullpen in an effort to make it free on Fridays. And I’ll try to be there every Friday so it’s easy for you to communicate with me on your time.”
Mavericks Empowering Mavericks responded with their own video on Monday. It took a humorous tone in presenting the key pieces of its platform. “Progress campus environmental sustainability” it says as Cremers hugs a tree and Abdul-Aziz jumps onto a branch. “Expand dining options for students with dietary restrictions” it says as the two run around outside the new dining hall. “We won’t lounge around” it says, as the two lay in hammocks outside the Performing Arts building. And, in a challenge to de Ruiter’s campaign, it says “preserve the free lot” as Cremers runs across the screen holding a Mavericks Empowering Mavericks poster.
SOS is late to the race, having jumped in only shortly after the election postponement. The party certainly hit the ground running, however.
“We’re really focusing on social media,” says de Ruiter.
De Ruiter says that the SOS Facebook page, created a week ago, already has a post reach of over 15,000. Their campaign video is already nearing 3,500 views.
Mavericks Empowering Mavericks, on the other hand, has run a very visible on-the-ground campaign. They have reached out to students at their table in the CSU and their posters have been ubiquitous on campus for weeks.
“We’ve done a solid month of campaigning and that’s been a combination of constant tabling and presenting to RSOs and various groups on campus,” says Abdul-Aziz.
It appears that Abdul-Aziz and his party have the edge. As of [7:00 p.m.] yesterday, the Mavericks Empowering Mavericks Facebook page had 353 likes and the SOS page had 148. Consensus in MSSA seems to be that de Ruiter does have a real chance at victory.
When asked if he would care to provide a prediction, Abdul-Aziz said that “we have faith that the student body will pick who they think will do the best job and optimistically represent the student body.”
“Whoever wins, MSU will be in good hands,” says de Ruiter. “What’s more important than voting for me is just voting in general.”
Today’s complete ballot can be found on pages 11 and 12. Party platforms for the two major parties can be found on page eight.