On Feb. 19 Student Association president Anthony Smith announced this year’s unopposed candidates, effectively beginning the election process.
Junior Tucker Sholtes was announced as the newest presidential candidate and freshman Neely Laufer as the vice presidential candidates the 2014 SA elections, which will take place March 11 and 12.
Due to various reasons, others interested in the positions were unable to run, so for the second straight year both candidates will run unopposed.
“I am disappointed,” Smith said. “This year, Tucker was the only student out of almost 8,000 to even consider running for the position of president of the student body. There is work to be done, voices to be heard, and rights to be defended, yet where is the backing of the students?”
Although an unopposed election takes some pressure off the candidates, there are cons with an unopposed election both for the candidates and for the student body. The process will leave the student body without the ability to choose its representative.
“I wish it was an opposition, because I think it is a good way for the student body to become more interested in it,” Sholtes said. “This unopposed election in particular can be explained by the overwhelming number of freshman in Senate this year that are stilling trying to grasp the transition into college life.”
“The senate is composed of very eager and passionate students starting their involvement with campus activities,” current vice president Francisco Perez said. “Although they’re not all running for major offices right now, I expect a lot of them to be moving up in the ranks in the years to come.”
Sholtes, a junior business administration and public relations major, is not directly involved in the Student Association currently, but is the president of Enactus, the president of Community Services and the treasurer of ONE Campus. He will resign from his current positions next year as he enters office as the newest SA President.
“If you asked me five weeks ago if I would ever become SA president, I would say absolutely not,” Sholtes said.
During an alternative break trip he was leading, Sholtes received a call from Michael Paestella, the director of Student Involvement, informing Sholtes that he had been recommended by many faculty and staff as a potential candidate for the SA presidency. With this information, Sholtes spent a week thinking about it and made sure that he had other leadership lined up for his other officer commitments.
“Once I made sure of this, I made the decision to go forward with the process,” Sholtes said.
As a presidential candidate, Sholtes offers a variety of experience with his involvement in several business and service organizations, committees and alumni related organizations. He has developed the ability to not only execute ideas but to get people to rally behind them.
“Although I am not ‘fluid’ in the SA part, I am very seasoned in the external part that is part of the president’s role, I already sit on various committees with President Stanley, I have a good relationship with the mayor and I sit on various consuls in the community,” Sholtes said. “So I think it can be very dynamic for Neely and I. I have that part under control and she has the SA part under control and together we can coach each other and be a good combination.”
One idea he plans to fulfill during his presidency is having a spring involvement fair. Like the one in the fall, this fair would focus on new transfer students and second semester freshmen who need an opportunity to learn about Oswego’s opportunities. With the students’ wants and needs being his driving force, he hopes to follow through with SA’s purpose of bringing new changes, as well as improving what is already being done around campus. Sholtes he expresses enthusiasm of working with Senate and Laufer.
“I realize there is a lot of value in rebranding SA, right now I think people view it as a bank,” Sholtes said. “But I think it is important to make people realize that SA is a great outlet if you want to see something change on campus and that they can come to us for any concerns.”
Sholtes said he is motivated and energized to start something new but continue to make a difference in the Oswego community.
“I am curious to see how much I can serve the student body,” Sholtes said. “I have always been in favor of the school’s thought that as a leader you are a servant to your followers, and I hope I will be able to convey that people can feel free to approach me. For me to be successful in this position I think that is going to come down to me making as many impacts as possible.”
Beside Sholtes in office will be Laufer. Laufer, a political science and geology major with a minor in sustainability, will be responsible for running the Senate and working with the president to execute some of SA plans.
Although she has only attended Oswego State for one full semester, she has been heavily involved as a Senator. With her previous position she has learned to listen to what the campus needs in all aspects of student life. She wrote most of the bills of any senator last semester, and has recently fulfilled the position as pro tempore, holds office under the vice president, takes attendance and is a chair person of rule and judiciary committee.
With a conversation with Smith, Laufer decided to take the initiative to run.
“I love being a part of senate and I think student involvement and our clubs are important,” Laufer said. “SA provides students with a voice.”
She said she wants to see SA expand and improve for the betterment of the student body as a whole.
“I want to make sure that more senators are involved and part of other clubs then SA because I think we should have more of a voice and show ourselves,” Laufer said.
Especially because some of the buildings on campus are not being represented in senate, she wants to make it a priority to reach out to people and encourage them to join.
Smith said that he wouldn’t mind seeing someone with limited to no SA experience following him as SA President.
“Having a someone not involved in SA directly may allow for a different perspective on how to run the organization,” Smith said.
To ensure that the transition is smoother, Smith plans to organize a binder and guide for future presidents so that they have an idea what to do, what is expected of them and can refer to something in writing with clear examples. He expects the new president to use their best judgment, to never take “no” as an answer and to be committed and put in the time required to see the “fruits of one’s labor.”
“While I may be uneasy about leaving so much of my hard work in the hands of someone that hasn’t been around to see my efforts in play, I believe that I have to put my trust in the future leaders of this organization, experienced or not, to do the right thing and carry SA, its organizations, and the student body, forward,” Smith said.
Perez said not to judge Laufer by her lack of experience.
“The fact that she has not been here for an extended period of time does not show in the quality of work she has contributed to the Senate this year,” Perez said. “I actually think it will be a benefit to the Senates in upcoming years to have younger leadership at this time.”
“She has displayed a tremendous work ethic in Senate and I think that if she can break out of her shell and command the Senate with a powerful voice and a smile on her face, she will do well,” Smith said.
As the current officers graduate out of SA, they pass on their roles with confidence, but leave behind what they have accomplished.
“I just wish that my peers would recognize that we need their cooperation and involvement to make this campus a better place.” Smith said. “Being President of the Student Association is an honor and a great way to meet important individuals, all the while making decisions that range from seemingly infinitesimal in its importance to something so important, it will affect students for years to come. If I could say anything to my campus and my peers, it would be to please get involved in the world around you and make an impact; this campus is ready to be changed for the better, it’s just waiting for you.”
In order for the candidates to get where they are, there was a strict process in being nominated. It started with the elections committee forming a timeline that would follow procedure and lead up to the date of elections. From there, any member of the student body wishing to run would receive a petition and have to gather 500 signatures of other members of the student body. After about two weeks, the petitions would be collected.
For this election in particular, the candidates had about a week to gather signatures due to the time they picked up their petition, so the elections committee extended the deadline to make it possible for people to run.
After the deadline, the election committee met to make sure the code was followed and that each signature is a fee-paying student at Oswego State. Checking each petition twice, they confirm the candidates and the slate, a list of items to be voted on in the election, is posted. Anyone can post a decision making question on the slate as long as it is passed and approved by the Senate. From the time the slate is posted, candidates have the opportunity to use SA funding in creating a campaign until the day of the elections.
In the past there has been three debates to approach three sections of campus, but this year the Senate decided to do one larger debate. Once it is election time, students will receive an email with a link to Laker Life to vote. By the end of the week the winner is expected to be announced.
Given that each election is unopposed, the dynamic of student voting is changed, although students are still encouraged to be informed and show their support by continuing to cast their votes.
The next election related event takes place on March 5 at 7:45 p.m. in Johnson Hall. With the help of WTOP-10 televising this event, it should be available for all students to view. Due to the unavailability of the Campus Center during that night, Johnson Hall offered a place for the televised event. But until then and the day of the election, it is the student body’s responsibility to be informed and know the leaders that will be representing them. The email with the link to Laker Life will be sent out on March 11 to vote. The results will be made official and Sholtes and Laufer will take office April 1.