Veronica Green, ’23, was at the Grove City Outlet Mall on Saturday afternoon when she got a phone call.
“When (Allegheny Student Government Attorney General) Jack Parker called me I was like, ‘Oh, no, I’m gonna cry in the middle of Francesca’s,” Green said. “It was kind of a shock, because I was around so many people it was like, ‘I don’t know how to respond right now.'”
Green told the friends she was with, and then called Rudra Schultz-Ray, ’23, who was on his way back to campus from a history department field trip in Pittsburgh.
“She texted me, and was like, ‘I have something to tell you, can I call you?’ and I said, ‘No,’ and she called me anyways,” Schultz-Ray said. “I was on a bus with people, I didn’t feel like answering the phone with people all around me. Then, she called, and I hung up on her at first. And then she called again, and I was like, ‘okay, what do you want,’ and she’s like, ‘we won,’ I’m like, ‘what?'”
Green and Schultz-Ray had won the 2022-23 ASG Presidency and vice-presidency, respectively. The ticket defeated Peter Alegre, ’23, and Kyrie Doniz, ’23, in the three-day online election, with polls running from 8 a.m. on March 30 to 5 p.m. on April 1.
“I am, of course, disappointed for the loss for us., but I am close friends with other candidates, so I’m so happy for them,” Doniz said. “We do wish the candidates that did win the best success; we do believe that they have great things in store. That’s why that race was so close.”
According to ASG Parliamentarian Rachael Harris, ’23, the election saw higher turnout than in previous years.
“I am so pleased with our voter turnout seeing that it hasn’t been this high in a very long time,” Harris said. “I’m very appreciative of everybody that came out to vote.”
A total of 411 votes were cast, with the Green-Schultz-Ray ticket winning by a margin of five votes. Harris said that usually, the election sees around 300 voters, a threshold that was passed on March 31 with around 24 hours to go. Because most votes had already been cast by the time polls closed on Friday, April 1, Harris and Parker decided to announce the results earlier than expected.
“We were able to verify (the results) Friday night and announce them on Saturday,” Harris said.
Despite the small separation between the candidates, Harris said that ASG’s election guidelines do not require a recount.
“It was close the entire way,” Harris said. “I don’t believe there’s anything in our policy right now that would say five votes is a recount. There’s not a lot surrounding our election policies.”
However, Green wished the turnout — around 29.1% of the student body, according to the college’s demographic data — had been higher, and attributed it to what Schultz-Ray called the “disenfranchisement” of the student body.
“I think it’s specifically the position that ASG put itself in over the past couple years, in creating this divide between the students and the student representatives,” Green said. “I think the vibe on campus regarding voting was ‘why should we? … ASG is not going to do anything, so they can have all these great ideas, but they’re never going to get accomplished.’ I think (that) prior experience with representatives and presidents and vice presidents in ASG that has created this stigma (among students) and it has discouraged a lot of people from what ASG can actually do.”
Getting rid of this stigma, Schultz-Ray said, starts with making their administration a productive one.
“(Flatly), we just need to get things done,” Schultz-Ray said. “We need to get important legislation through (and) we need to follow through with our campaign promises. We were careful throughout campaigning to make promises and stuff that we can actually achieve.”
Schultz-Ray also said he hopes that by getting things done in their administration, he and Green can influence later administrations.
“It’s an idea of (changing) the culture of ASG, which is a long process,” Schultz-Ray said. “But if we start this habit of us being able to fulfill our promises, and us being able to achieve stuff that actually works well with the student body (and that) the student body appreciates, then that will be some pretty big steps towards (changing the culture).”
One way the new administration intends to accomplish their goals is by getting one of their biggest priorities — an amendment to the ASG Constitution requiring leadership training for ASG-recognized clubs — through the General Assembly by the end of this semester.
“We want to get leadership training legislation through before our term starts so we can actually have it happen at the start of next year,” Schultz-Ray said. “If we don’t, if we lay back and don’t have it written into the Constitution, then it’s not going to happen next year. And then things start to slow down. And that kind of already starts to begin that whole problem again.”
Green also hopes to take care of initiatives that do not require administration approval by the end of the first half of the fall semester, though Shultz-Ray noted that a formal timeline for when students can expect legislature is still in the works.
As for tackling issues that do require cooperation with college leadership, she says she plans on beginning to write to administrators over the summer “so that they can’t say we didn’t give them enough time.”
The administration-elect also says that they are developing tools for students to hold them accountable to their campaign promises, from being more active on Instagram to incentivizing student attendance at ASG General Assemblies.
“I think the most effective (GAs) are when constituents are there and actively engaging with what we are doing and, in some instances, calling us out on stuff that we haven’t been doing,” Green said. “One thing that we definitely don’t want to do is become an administration that is intimidating to students. If you have a grievance with us, just come up and say it. We’re not going to take personal offense to it because if you say we haven’t done something, it’s very easy to figure out if we’ve done it or we didn’t do it.”
One way Schultz-Ray said he will try and encourage people to reach out to ASG is by being more proactive in engaging with constituents.
“I will be more than happy to continue talking to CILC organizations or any organizations like we were during campaigning and gathering up these responses and these criticisms they have,” Schultz-Ray said. “Expecting people to reach out to us always reduces interaction, but if we are interacting with people and reaching out to them, they’re much more likely to actually bring their grievances to us.”
The first big item on the administration-elect’s agenda is to put out applications for the 2022-23 cabinet. While Green said that ASG members were not discouraged from applying, her administration was looking for a wider swath of candidates.
“We are looking to have a cabinet that’s more representative of the student body and unique student experiences, whether that be that you never had ASG experience before, but you have proven leadership experience in other clubs, so you can prove competency within the cabinet,” Green said. “We’re looking for people who can go along with our ideas, but also are creative enough to come up with their own ideas, in addition to upholding the same standards that we have for ourselves — transparency, being (held) accountable for what you say you’re going to do.”
They also noted that the Green-Schultz-Ray campaign staff — which Schultz-Ray described as “filled with very competent people” —would not automatically get cabinet positions for their work during the election.
“That’s not going to be like a nepotism thing,” Schultz-Ray said. “Yes, (campaign staff can) apply, (they) go through the same criteria that everybody else does and if somebody (else) is more qualified and we feel like we can work better with them, then (the latter candidate) will probably get the position.”
Among the potential candidates for cabinet are Alegre and Doniz themselves.
“I do want to be involved in ASG, so I do plan to apply,” Doniz said.
Alegre is not as sure if he will be a part of the cabinet, but still intends to be a community leader.
“I’m always trying to talk to people, see how they are and — even if I’m not in ASG — getting a sense of how people are, what matters to them,” Alegre said. “Just being a friendly face is an important part of building community.”