Last Wednesday and Thursday, 897 of John Carroll University’s total undergraduate enrollment of 3,009 students cast their ballots, representing 29.8 percent of the total student body. Last year, a similar 28.1 percent of the student body voted.
There were nine candidates and seven officer positions available.
Junior Greg Petsche won the presidential election with 716 votes, or 87 percent. Sophomore Matt Deboth was Petsche’s strongest opposition, as a write-in candidate, with 51 votes, or 6.2 percent.
Petsche said, “My leadership is going to be focused on building relationships between students and the University, students and the city of University Heights, as well as students and their Student Union.”
He plans to keep his platform promises of “fostering a more diverse and inclusive campus community, further building the Student Discount Partnership program, holding town-hall forums where students can more comfortably bring forward concerns and ideas to their Student Union, improving communications between the Student Union and the student body and creating a National Jesuit Student Government Association made up of the 28 Jesuit universities across the United States.”
Sophomore Steve Palmieri was elected executive vice president with a total of 702 votes out of 777, or 90 percent. Palmieri also ran uncontested.
“As executive vice president, I want to cultivate a spirit of school unity and pride through better communication, and mutual support of organizations and athletic teams,” said Palmieri. “I will also continue the hard work that Greg has done to improve relations between University Heights and John Carroll.”
Palmieri encourages student feedback and suggestions to improve the JCU experience for students.
“At the end of my term, I hope that our senators and all students will feel empowered to create real, lasting, positive change on campus,” said Palmieri.
The vice president of communications for the next semester will be junior Lizzie Trathen, who was in contention with sophomore Deirdre Byrne. Trathen received 456 votes, 53 percent, while Byrne received 381 votes, 4 percent.
Trathen wants to make sure that the bond between the students and their Student Union is strong.
“I want John Carroll students to realize that they are an integral part of the Student Union’s success. I hope to make meetings more inviting to students so they want to attend and share their ideas and concerns,” Trathen said.
With 726 votes, junior Joe Hayek won vice president of judicial affairs with 94 percent of the vote. He also ran unopposed.
Hayek said that he is very excited to have been elected to this position.
“My main goals for this position are to keep a consistent board and to reach out to the student body. I want to hear what others have to say regarding our rules or sanctions,” he said.
In addition to regular meetings with the judicial board, Hayek said he will also keep his email open to the public, so that anyone with suggestions or disagreements can bring them up.
“I will emphasize that each student appearing in front of the board will be dealt with respectfully and will focus on the educational aspect of the hearing board,” said Hayek.
Junior Charlie Trouba received 93 percent of the vote with 710 votes, and will be the vice president of business affairs.
As vice president of business affairs, Trouba said his main duty will be to make sure that the budget is properly managed and to audit the organizations which receive the most funding from the budget boards are using their funds fairly.
“The purpose of these audits are intended to inform myself and members of the budget board of how SAF [student activity fee] funds are being used. As VP of business affairs my ultimate responsibility is to maximize the use of the SAF budget to benefit all JCU students,” said Trouba.
In the vice president for student organizations race between junior Bill Cook and sophomore Chris Wetherill, Bill Cook won with 60 percent of the vote, representing 479 students. Chris Wetherill got 293 votes, or 37 percent.
Junior Taylor Horen was elected the vice president of programming and received 743 of 775 votes, or 96 percent. She also ran uncontested.
“As the new vice president of programming, I strongly believe that better communication with the student body, unique marketing tactics, more popular events, and most importantly, enthusiasm, is what will make the programs we offer even more successful than they already are,” said Horen.
By the numbers
Out of 3,009 students, only 30 percent, or 897, voted in the Student Union elections.
According to President Elect Greg Petsche, this could have been because five of the nine candidates ran unopposed.
“With uncontested elections there are less candidates campaigning and thus engaging students personally. Uncontested elections also create a feeling of apathy in that many believe there is no point to voting when there are only two contested races,” said Petsche.
The reason that so many positions were uncontested was because many nominees for the positions either couldn’t make the time commitment or did not have the experience necessary.
“The reason many people didn’t accept [nominations] was because of the commitment in terms of time and energy that would conflict with a heavy course load, internship, prior obligations, etc.,” said Petsche. “On top of this, three of the uncontested positions (president, vice president of programming and vice president of judicial affairs) have more stringent qualifications due to the positions’ responsibilities.”
Despite the lack of competition for the candidates, compared to last year, this voter turnout was actually higher by 62 students. According to Petsche, many of the students who did not vote were either seniors or live off campus, two factors that discourage them from coming to the polls.
“Those that live off campus are harder to reach, and many seniors are in a graduating mindset and have a lot more going on outside of Carroll,” said Petsche.
Some of the recently elected officers are disappointed that so many freshmen are applying for the senate but so few upperclassmen accepted nominations for the executive board elections.
The Student Union has received 34 letters of intent for students who will run for senator positions. Of these, 19 are freshmen.
Horen feels that a better-publicized and explained election process will promote a higher number of people running for positions and voting.
Junior Ashley Aberl did not vote in this election, because she felt that the campaigning did not allow her to get to know the candidates.
“I don’t think the [candidate] forums were well advertised,” she said. “I wasn’t approached by a candidate until the day before.”
Sophomore Chuck Mulé agreed. “I only knew three of the candidates. Greg was running uncontested so I didn’t see the point in voting. And the two other people [I knew] were running against each other and I thought they would both do a good job, so I didn’t vote.”
Sophomores Andrew Ettinger and Sarah Alessi, who cast their ballot in the election feel that voting is an important duty for JCU students and citizens alike.
“It’s an important governmental aspect of our lives that furthers the democratic process,” said Ettinger.
Alessi said, “It’s important because it effects us directly and we see the benefits of it.”
Looking forward, Petsche believes that active student participation in the Student Union is essential to the student body’s success.
“We wouldn’t have any authority if people didn’t participate,” he said.