The votes are in, the debates are over, and the position of student body president has been narrowed to two students.
Mazie Ludlow, a junior communication major from Turlock, Calif., and Carlos Morgan, a junior communication major from Santa Clara, are making their final cases to students to become the first full-term student body president of Dixie State University.
Online voting was introduced last year in order to increase students’ access to the political process. Mike Sheffield, last year’s DSU Student Association President, estimated that 15 percent of the student body voted in the elections. Since the spot for student body president ran unopposed in 2012, there were no primaries. So currently, voter turnout for 2013 can’t be accurately compared to last year.
However, DSUSA Chief Justice Rhett Sullivan, a senior communication major from Hurricane, said only 11 percent of the student body voted for candidates at this year’s primaries.
Ludlow garnered the most support, but just barely, with 265 students voting her into the next round. Morgan came in a very close second, with 250 votes. D’Andre Matthews, a sophomore biology major from Las Vegas, lost out by only 16 votes, and Taylor Nelson, a major from St. George, dropped out of the race just as voting began.
“I really didn’t have enough time to run a good campaign,” Nelson said. “I have a wife, I’m taking 16 credits and I have a full-time job.”
Nelson said he felt comfortable withdrawing from the election because Morgan’s ideals were similar to his.
Brandon Lewis, a junior communication major from coalville, ran uncontested for vice president of clubs and received 745 votes. Gregory Layton, a junior English major from Cottonwood Heights, also ran uncontested for vice president of academics. He recieved 741 votes.
Sullivan said that, although the unopposed candidates have technically already won, the DSUSA members are still encouraging them to continue with the election process.
“We want them involved with final elections, so they’re going to be in the debate and they’re still going to be on the ballot,” Sullivan said. “It’s going to be a good opportunity for students to get to know [the candidates] if they’re out campaigning.”
So the bulk of the attention will be on those vying for student body president. And with the votes so closely split, the upcoming campaigning will be crucial for Ludlow and Morgan.
Current DSUSA President Brody Mikesell officiated a debate between the candidates on Feb. 19 on the Encampment Mall. Each candidate had a chance to describe his or her platform and what he or she intends to do once elected.
The plans were similar across the board: Talk to students more.
Lewis said he wanted to “put forth the effort to get kids involved,” Layton said his goal is to better “student participation or access,” Morgan said he wants “more student involvement on campus,” and Ludlow said she wants to “act [as] the microphone for the students.”
And that’s been the campaign strategy for both Morgan and Ludlow so far: the two have been connecting with students face-to-face during the whole election process.
“I think the biggest thing for students is to see their candidate is out there,” Ludlow said. “Last week I tried to talk to a student at every apartment.”
Morgan said his plan is to do just about the same thing.
“We’re just going to work hard,” he said. “We’re going to get out there and talk to people. We’re going to utilize all the resources we have, talk to people, get out there.”
Although the general consensus among candidates was that students needed to be engaged more, no one candidate had a specific plan to do so.
However, some candidates were willing to come up with some ideas on the spot.
Ludlow said she was willing to put in the footwork herself.
“I love talking to people; I’m going to go talk to students,” She said. “Personal invitation is the best way to get anyone to do anything. It’s so much better to see the person that’s representing you and see that they’re talking to you, and I have no problem doing that. I love going out and talking to people.”
Morgan said he “whole-heartedly agreed” with Ludlow that students needed to be engaged more. But he wants to set up a system where talking with students is part of a council member’s job description.
“I’m currently a senator, and it’s really hard to get out there and meet [students],” Morgan said. “Maybe one thing we could do is have senators have a committee—five different people representing each different department. It starts with getting that…in place and and then going through with it.”
Layton said his personal collegiate experience changed for the better once he became more active.
“If we can get more students involved at the school, then they’ll feel the school is more a part of them,” he said. “I want the senators to go and associate and interact with the people they represent. Somehow, get to know those people that they represent and just build a relationship because relationships are truly key to retaining students and making them feel like they are a part of the college.”
Lewis said he agreed with everyone, but he also brought up a communication option that hadn’t been discussed.
“I think we have a great resource [in] Ambassadors that we can use, and also student alumni,” he said. “If we all can get on a tight link and, like we said before, unity amongst them and amongst all of us, that’s a great way…to get more students involved.”
Final voting is today and tomorrow online at dixie.edu/elections from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on campus on the Diagonal from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.