By Brittany Wilson; The Whetstone
Betty Lee, Kelsey Fitzpatrick, Kylea Lankford, Austin Luna, and Jacob Sasso were elected the new Student Government Association Executive Board for the 2017-18 school year.
Lee won 63 percent of the vote for president—120 more votes than her opponent, Raymond Lewis.
Lankford, who ran against Jonathan Mullin for secretary, won by nearly 60 percent of the vote.
Fitzpatrick (vice president), Luna (treasurer), and Sasso (chief of staff) ran unopposed.
Freshman Diamond Vaughn said she was impressed with both presidential candidates’ ideas to improve Wesley.
“I wasn’t surprised by the results because I think Betty is more well-known on campus because of all the organizations she is in,” she said.
Lewis did not respond to requests for comment.
Lee, who was the presidential runner-up in last year’s election, said she has only missed four SGA meetings in her three years at Wesley.
Lee said she has been on the board of seven organizations (for two of which she was president), has served on three SGA committees, was the SGA representative for two organizations, and was also the maintenance liaison. She was also involved in the founding of both Sustainable Wesley and The Midnight Roast.
“I heard some people say that attending SGA doesn’t make you necessarily qualified to run it,” she said. “However, if you have not been there for the students since day one, I do not think you have a right to represent them.”
Fitzpatrick, Lee’s running-mate, said she believes Lee was more than qualified for the job.
“I feel confidently that we can make some serious changes at Wesley and we will represent the students and their voices well,” she said.
Fitzpatrick said she is no stranger to SGA and its processes either—she started out as an SGA class representative, then later became SGA secretary and food and beverage liaison before running for vice president. She also helped found The Midnight Roast.
“My decision to be involved in the SGA was based on my pride for this school,” she said. “I have dedicated myself to Wesley College because I want others to feel the pride that I feel.”
Lee and Fitzpatrick said their personal campaign approach contributed to their win.
“One thing I refused to do was hand out baked goods,” she said. “I know our students are capable of making the decision they want without the pressure of ‘voting correctly’ to get a baked good.”
Senior Kenneth Young said Lee’s approach was much different than what he witnessed during last year’s election.
“[Last year] Destiny came to my room with other people I didn’t know,” he said. “She told me about the election, gave me a cookie, and hinted that my vote should go to her.”
Young said that this year, Lee was the one to knock on his door—but this time, he was much less uncomfortable.
“All she did was come to my room and remind me that the election was going on,” he said. “She didn’t give me anything or make a subtle pass that I should vote for her specifically.”
Lee said she and Fitzpatrick, knocked on dorm doors to get students involved, not to win votes.
“If people were to vote for me, it would be because they chose with their own opinions and views,” she said. “I think overall we actually got Ray about 20 votes because we got people to actually perform the action of voting, which is what matters.”
Student Haylee Olley said she voted because she felt one presidential candidate was more qualified than the other.
“I was not really surprised [by the results] because the one candidate put herself out there and was more personally active compared to the other one,” she said. “I thought the outcome was great, I just would’ve liked to see more competition in the other categories.”
Current SGA Vice President Jennifer Jankowski said this lack of participation caused nominations week to be extended.
“We did not have enough students running for positions,” she said. “As an executive board, we felt that we would be doing the student body an injustice if we did not allow them to have more choices.”
Lee said this lack of participation is one of the first campus issues she would like to address as SGA president.
“There is a clear disconnect,” she said. “It has nothing to do with students being uninvolved or lazy, but everything to do with [leadership] spending too much time blaming the students instead of working on involving them.”
Lee said she was nominated Monday of the original nominations week.
“I was running unopposed,” she said. “Which is especially interesting considering my opponent later said he had been planning to run since freshman year.”
Lee said that once nominations were extended, Lankford and Mullin both joined the race for secretary.
Lankford said she has been previously involved in SGA through Fairy Godsisters.
Jankowski said her best advice to the new executive board is to manage time wisely and create a good line of communication.
“I have learned that SGA is not all sunshine and butterflies,” she said. “I have enjoyed helping the students and connecting with faculty and staff, but I will admit that there have been some difficult times throughout the process.”
SGA Adviser Dr. Jack Barnhardt said he looks forward to working with the new executive board.
“I am a resource for them,” he said. “I won’t always agree, but I’ll do my best to advocate for them when appropriate and to always be fair.”
Lee said her main goal as president is to be present, positive, and supportive for student organizations.
“I want everyone to support each other the way they ask others to support them,” she said. “I love Wesley and want to help others love this school too.
Fitzpatrick said she thinks if processes were simplified, students would be motivated to get more involved.
“Past boards have stopped way too easily at ‘no’ when bringing problems to departments and administration,” she said. “Betty and I agreed that we want to work until there is an appropriate compromise no matter how long it takes.”