A record number of students voted in this year’s Student Government, Inc. elections, voting in a near equal number of candidates from the two tickets, P.R.I.D.E. and VISION.
Of the 10,342 eligible voters from the Queens and Manhattan campuses, 1,617 students submitted their ballots on campus and St. John’s Central. This year’s 15.6 percent voter participation was a 27 percent increase over last year when 1,277 students cast their vote. In the 2007 SGI election, 633 students participated.
The P.R.I.D.E (Promising you Reliability, Innovation, Dedication to Excellence) ticket took three of the seven contested positions with junior Patrick McBurney elected as the new SGI President, junior Christina Zaccarelli chosen as vice president and sophomore Katie Beckmann winning the junior senator position. For the VISION ticket, sophomore Patrick Brewer took the position of secretary, junior Jacqueline Torres won treasurer, and junior Matthew Coleman and freshman Ixtli-Nitzin Sanchez won senior and sophomore senator, respectively.
Current SGI Secretary Dominic Baccala credited the rise in voter participation to the greater publicizing of SGI as a whole during the election.
“Not only were the tickets out there pushing, but John [Kelly, SGI vice president], Dana [Lezama, SGI president], myself and the election committee were all out there,” he said. “I think the collaborative effort between those in standing and those running was what the increase can be attributed to.”
Lezama said she agreed and further suggested that the increased involvement is a continuing trend.
“With students this year, based on the outreach we have done in the past two years, they felt the need to get out and let their voices be heard,” she said.
McBurney said that the continuing increase in voting is a sign that students are responding to the efforts of those who work in SGI.
“Obviously we must be doing something right to gain an increase in interest,” he said. “So our goal now is to keep this going.”Mary Pelkowski, the University’s director of leadership development, shared McBurney’s enthusiasm.
“Each year this number continues to rise and students are becoming more involved in campus-wide activities, programs and events,” she said.
McBurney spoke shortly after the results were announced Tuesday afternoon in the University Center, expressing his enthusiasm over his election.
“I’m really happy and excited for myself and all the winners,” he said. “I give all the credit to the people on my ticket. I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for each and every one of them.”
He said that one of his top priorities for the new SGI board is to continue to raise the level of student engagement, an issue that was mentioned by University president Rev. Donald Harrington in an interview with the Torch last week.
McBurney also addressed the fact that for the first time in years, the SGI board will be significantly divided between members of two tickets.
“I’ve worked with everyone on the other ticket, so I don’t anticipate a problem with getting everyone on the same page,” he said, adding that he hopes the diverse range of ideas will be beneficial. “Both tickets had some great ideas, so we are all going to sit down, combine ideas and figure out what is going to work the best for everyone and to help make SGI the best that it can be.”
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Darren Morton congratulated all the candidates, while emphasizing the jobs the newly elected students must focus on over the positions themselves.
“The important thing for everyone to remember in all of this is that you run for the purpose of serving the organization and serving the students, not necessarily just because you want a position,” he said.