Marshall, Ayo-Ani elected as SBP, SBVP
Student government election results were released last Tuesday. Junior policy and management and Chinese studies double major JR Marshall and junior information systems major Jibby Ayo-Ani were ratified on Wednesday as the incoming student body president (SBP) and student body vice president (SBVP), respectively.
Marshall and Ayo-Ani won with 37.18 percent of the total vote. Competitors junior information systems major Evan Wineland and sophomore math major Connie Yang came in second place with 31.66 percent, while junior electrical and computer engineering major Divya Kothandapani and third year Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering Mark Whiting earned 14.61 percent. The final running pair, senior statistics and economics double major Saif Jedidi and sophomore computer science major Ben Debebe, ended the election with 11.58 percent of the vote.
Additionally, junior math major Benjamin Zhang was elected unopposed as student body vice president for finance (SBVPF). Meanwhile, sophomore chemical engineering and engineering and public policy double major Trevor Hadick was elected over sophomore math and economics double major Ryan LaPré as student body vice president for organizations (SBVPO). Hadick received 42.42 percent of the vote, while LaPré received 29.16 percent.
This year’s election demonstrated a significant increase in student participation. 26.22 percent of total students cast votes, compared with 17.9 percent in 2014. 41.06 percent of undergraduates voted, compared with 32.43 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, 10.36 percent of graduate students voted, almost triple the number who voted last year.
The election was “quite a ride,” Marshall said. He added that it was “really encouraging to get the campus involved in an election” and that all students “deserve a student government that works for them.”
According to Ayo-Ani, she and Marshall crafted a platform that addressed as many students as possible in an effort to increase student participation in the election. “Our goal from the very beginning was to get as many people involved as possible,” she said.
“Students are coming to realize what an important time this is in our long-term history,” Marshall said. He is confident that students are starting to “take ownership of the future of Carnegie Mellon.”
Marshall and Ayo-Ani ran on a platform that emphasized mental health awareness and efforts to combat sexual assault and relationship violence on campus, including getting all campus leaders certified in the Survivor Support Network. In addition, they want to expand acceptance of DineX at businesses close to campus and establish a “Reorientation Day” in the middle of the semester to facilitate students’ mindfulness.
Current SBP and senior electrical and computer engineering and business administration double major Ian Glasner reflected on his own tenure as SBP so far at Senate last week, citing successful campaigns such as the Proud to Be Plaid initiative and committee, the student initiatives website, and the Jared L. Cohon University Center expansion plan.
Glasner’s administration also fought to decrease exceptions to the university’s moratorium on having classes between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., so that all students can participate in extracurriculars, and to internalize Carnegie Mellon’s alcohol citation policy.
Glasner emphasized that, though many of his initiatives have become reality, there are still some that have yet to be corrected, such as housing and dining prices, which are much higher than those of off-campus options. He stressed that larger student movements are necessary to make the changes to these policies. “Housing and dining are not going to improve until that happens,” Glasner said.
Marshall and Ayo-Ani do not wish to set any first priority for tackling their administration’s initiatives, as there are “so many issues of equal importance that can’t wait,” Marshall said.
They are already engaged in an “orchestrated, synthesized effort to set [their initiatives] in motion right away and get the right people in place,” Marshall said.
“[We’re] reaching out to administration to move from feasibility talks to talks of logistics,” Ayo-Ani said.
Each of their initiatives starts with student town halls, according to Marshall, to show that students’ voices are their administration’s top priority.
“We want to help give people that springboard to do great things here,” Ayo-Ani said.
“We’re not superheroes,” Marshall said, “but this student body is made up of superheroes.”
Marshall spoke of his working relationship with Ayo-Ani saying, “We really consider ourselves a team. We share the same goals, the same values, and the same future for this campus.”
Marshall additionally expressed his desire to integrate their former competition into their administration: “We want to work with our competitors. They were so gracious, full of integrity, and real pleasure to run against, and they will continue to be just as much a part of the team ... to make the future a little brighter.”
“We’re really thankful that the student body would choose us to lead us through next year,” said Marshall. “We really believe we can leave [Carnegie Mellon] a lot better than how we found it.”