The only position with competition, the race for student body president, features two candidates: Abbey Widick and Laredo Loyd.
Last year, two candidates ran for vice president of operations, three for vice president of external affairs and four for president. The treasurer seat was unopposed.
Vice President of External Affairs Hudson Trent said the disparity is not the result of a culture change in SGA.
“This is not the result of some internal power vacuum keeping people from running for student body officer positions,” Trent said. “SGA is an organization just like every other in that its composition changes year to year, and even semester to semester as people go abroad, or focus on other things. The cabinet is composed of all seniors except for presidential candidate Abbey Widick.”
Trent said that the House of Student Representatives is composed mostly of first-year and sophomore students who typically wait a couple of years until they run. He also said many SGA members are leaders in other organizations, meaning a lot of student representatives do not have time for the responsibilities of a student body officer (SBO).”
McKenzie Keetch, Will Jezek and Kat Nestor are each running unopposed for treasurer, vice president of external affairs and vice president of operations, respectively.
Jack Leonhard, a representative for the Class of 2021, is disappointed about the situation and places the blame on the student government.
“Seeing how there are three positions running unopposed just goes to show how SGA has been out of touch with the student body and how we are lacking the motivation to get things done,” Leonhard said. “I wish I could have seen more competition.”
First-year AddRan College representative Tucker Wilkie concurs with Leonhard and said that SGA needs to be more accessible to the student population.
“I think the student body is more than capable to fulfill those positions,” Wilkie said. “But I wonder if a new strategy is necessary to communicate that with the students. We need to communicate with students that these positions ought to be filled and they can do that.”
Loyd said SGA has been blessed with a great class of first-year students but is worried they may fall back to the current “resume-building culture.”
“Individuals join House and then do not take their positions to new heights or contribute to the overall atmosphere of House or reach out to those they represent,” Loyd said.
Leonhard expanded on Wilkie’s comments saying if students cannot name their student body officers, it’s SGA’s fault.
“It shows a lack of us trying to reach out to them,” Leonhard said. “It’s our goal to make their college experience the best that it can be. This election stands as a testament to that: we need to work on how we face the student body and how we get their ideas.”
Loyd said SGA can start to improve their relations with students by being there for them.
While critical, Leonhard remains optimistic that a change will be made in SGA.
“SGA is one of the best ways students can make an impact on campus,” Leonhard said. “All of us are incredibly confident that we will find new ways to engage the student body and continually make their TCU experience better.”
There is only one qualification to run for student body office: students first need to be a representative. Leonhard said that SGA may need to readdress the qualifications.
“The office of the speaker is something you need experience beforehand,” Leonhard said. “You need to know how to run the parliamentary procedure and know how the meetings run in House to be able to fill that office. The positions of VPO, VPE and treasurer are three positions that I believe the student body could place a capable person in those positions.”
Widick said it’s important for all students looking to run for SBO to serve in the House beforehand.
“We have not had a student body president in the past nine years that has been president without having previously served on cabinet because of the experience, knowledge and understanding that is gained from that,” Widick said.
Keetch, a sophomore finance and accounting double major and current Neeley School of Business representative, approached the election differently. To the student body, she is running unopposed but she approached the election as if she were running against a competitor.
“Originally, I was running against someone else until a few days ago,” Keetch said. “It was difficult to reestablish how hard I’m going to approach the election so students don’t feel overwhelmed by me thinking I’m running opposed. I prepared as if it was going to be a little more of a competition.”
Leonhard, the campaign manager for Jezek’s campaign, said one of Jezek’s goals during the campaign process is to familiarize himself with the student body.
“Even though they weren’t given another option,” Leonhard said, “He wants to prove to them that he would have been the best person, no matter what.”
While three positions are running unopposed, Wilkie and Leonhard said SGA is lucky to have the best candidates running for their positions.
“What’s unique about our situation here is that the three positions that are unopposed are all people that I would be in support of if those positions were contested,” Wilkie said. “While it’s unfortunate that those positions are uncontested, I think that we have a great opportunity to realize that these are positions that deserve to be filled by capable people.”
Leonhard said that all three are the best of what SGA has to offer and is excited about what they will do for the student government.
“I’m incredibly glad that those are the three people that chose to fill the positions, stepped up and chose to lead our school,” Leonhard said. “We’re going to have a really good year in SGA and I think that students might be more motivated to get involved in elections going forward.”
Voting for student body officers will begin tomorrow, Apr. 19 at 9 a.m. and the winners will be announced Apr. 20.