This year’s Student Government election season brought issues of sexual assault, race and Student Government effectiveness to the forefront of the campus community. Candidates had one week to campaign, which involved meeting with students and organizations, debating and creating promotional materials.
Juniors Mellie Mesfin and Walter Jackson will go head-to-head in a runoff for President. Sophomore Miles Middleton handily secured the position of Speaker of the House. Junior Andrew Wilson will be the next Treasurer, and sophomore Laura Horton will be the next Secretary.
The race for rising sophomore senators received 2,587 votes, the most of any other category. Second to that, 2,507 voted in the race for President.
The election for president is not yet decided, as no candidate captured more than 50 percent of the vote. To determine a clear winner, there will be a runoff on Thursday, March 28, between Jackson and Mesfin, the two candidates who received the most votes, though Mesfin recieved slightly more votes than Jackson.
“I expected there to be a runoff, and despite the fact that voter turnout is traditionally lower for these sorts of things, I’ve seen a lot of people energized by the way that things have turned out,” said Mesfin.
Mesfin is the only one of the presidential candidates who has never been involved in Student Government in any capacity, yet she was able to gain the most support of any candidate.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t have ever entered the race if I didn’t think there was a chance I could win, she said. “Everything I’ve been running on is just what I’ve heard students saying for years, so while I’m extremely grateful, I’m not shocked that so many are supporting me.”
As for Jackson, there is still a possibility he could emerge victorious in this race.
“Election week has been tough and competitive, and I am happy that we have made it this far,” Jackson said. “I am extremely proud of my campaign team. They’ve all put in tremendous effort and I am very grateful for that.”
There were a total of five candidates in the race for student body president this year, also including sophomore Toki Hong, who received the next highest amount of votes after Jackson, and was respectively followed by juniors Maia Kennedy and Chandler Averette.
Though Averette recieved the fewest votes, he said does not have any regrets when it comes to how he ran his campaign.
“Leading up to election day,” he said. I felt more alive than I ever did beforehand. It was just a blast.”
Both Hong and Kennedy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Speaker of the House
The race for Speaker of the House boasted a diverse group of candidates, but the race was not a close one. Ultimately, Middleton held a strong lead and secured the position capturing 61.5 percent of votes.
Middleton commended his opponents, junior Matthew David and sophomore Jack Beyrer, for running clean campaigns, and shared his reactions upon winning.
“I am excited to have this opportunity to work with the rest of the Senate and the Executive Board in order to achieve the people’s goals,” Middleton said.
In the race for secretary, Horton easily defeated freshman Alberto Bufalino, capturing 65.5 percent of the vote compared to Bufalino’s 34.5 percent.
Horton is spending this semester studying abroad and thus had to conduct her campaign remotely. She spent the previous three semesters serving as a Senator.
Wilson ran unopposed for the position of Treasurer. Despite this, he expressed his desire to campaign given the potential of losing to a write-in candidate.
“Being Treasurer is a great deal of responsibility, and I take it very seriously,” he said. “But, it will be fun to help students acquire financial support for their organizations. I am looking forward to working with the newly elected Executive Board and am honored to serve with them.”
Class of 2020 Senators
Only five candidates ran in the race for rising senior Senators, and each was elected. They include Jackson Blodgett, Meredith Happy, Jay Sherrill, Jonathan (Noah) Dill and Tyler Miller, who have all previously served as Senators.
Sherrill is eager to continue serving as a Senator and make an impact during his last year at Wake Forest.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to continue working with students from all over campus to voice student concerns and create a positive impact on campus,” he said.
Class of 2021 Senators
Similarly, given that only nine candidates ran in this race, every candidate was elected. Of those elected, all have previously served as Senators with the exception of Andrew Butler and Cole Gibson.
“The thing I’m most excited for, now being a member of Wake Forest’s Senate, is representing the concerns and wants of my peers,” said Butler.
Gabe Mansour received 227 votes, the most of all candidates running. Next year will be his third year serving as a Senator for the Class of 2021.
“I continue to be beyond appreciative for the class of 2021’s support and trust, and I hope my efforts in student government continue to strengthen the Wake Forest community both academically and culturally,” he said.
Class of 2022 Senators
Of the 21 candidates that ran in this race, only 15 were elected. Every person elected has previously served as a Senator, with the exception of Brooke Blair.
Maya Dalton was also re-elected and shared what she hopes to achieve next year.
“I have a lot of projects I’ve been working on, including Sexual Assault and Misconduct Prevention on campus following the passing of a resolution I worked on this semester,” Dalton said.
Additionally, several Senators that served this year were not re-elected to serve again next year, including Mustafa (Mitch) Topaloglu, Yijin (Natalie) He and Morgan Milhollen.