SGA election, runoff has record setting voter turnout

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This year’s Student Government Association (SGA) campaign saw the highest voter turnout in SGA records going back to 2005.

During the general election, 41 percent students, or 3,497 out of an undergraduate population of 8,432, voted.

Caroline Pulliam, SGA Elections & Regulations Committee Chair, credited the turnout to the number of candidates – 10 people competing for four Student Body Officer positions – and a new marketing strategy.

“The new marketing team which has done so much for getting our name out there, getting our events out there and really branding SGA,” Pulliam said.

Those efforts included signs encouraging people to run for office with different messages based on their target audience of upper division or first-year students or college specific students. The filing period for candidates was also extended to four weeks for the first time.

Ben Taylor was elected Student Body President after a runoff with Michael McCluskey. During the runoff election, 3,339 students or 39 percent of the 8,432 undergraduate students voted.  

McCluskey, a sophomore, wouldn’t have been eligible to run in past elections, but this year, instead of requiring presidential candidates to have completed at least 65 credit hours – junior standing – students only needed to have completed three semesters at TCU before running, meaning sophomores were eligible.

The eligibility rules were also changed to allow transfer students to run for office after completing one semester. This changes came about have a three hour debate in SGA over election rules.

“Everyone wanted the opportunity to really get involved earlier,” Pulliam said. “Usually it’s beneficial to have experience, so that’s why it’s just always been tradition to be a rising senior to run for president.”

McCluskey said he was inspired to run for president after last spring when he managed the campaign of Ryker Thompson and Kelsey Ritchie.

That was honestly one of my defining experiences in college,” McCluskey said. “To take all that I’ve learned from that one and apply to this time and see what’s the same and what’s different for myself as a candidate.”

McCluskey said he had no plans to run again next year as a rising senior.

There was also a runoff election for the position of Vice President of External Affairs, which had three candidates running in the general election. Hudson Trent won that runoff over Allie Strehle.

Taylor and Trent, along with incoming Vice President of Operations Abby Widick and incoming Treasurer Cara Doil will be sworn in May 2 in the BLUU chambers.

Taylor said during his presidency he wants to focus on connecting people to the resources they need by working with students and the administration.

“When people are connected with the resources they can do whatever they want, as long as they have the autonomy and freedom to do so and they’ll come up with ideas way better than you can” Taylor said. “I’ve been inspired by people throughout my time here at TCU, and I hope to continue to allow people to inspire me.”