Posted by Joey Campain
For all of us, the McDermott program means opportunity. This opportunity can mean creating your own club, getting an amazing internship, spending a semester in DC with the Archer program, or basically anything else you can imagine. For me, this opportunity meant being able to pursue my passion for Student Government and take it as far as possible.
From the moment that I joined Student Government, I knew that I wanted to be an officer. I spent my first year working on project after project to show my commitment and my passion. I aimed to get to know everyone individually so that, when the time came, I would be able to understand and represent what the students wanted. When elections rolled around in the beginning of March, Rebecca (Becca) Tjahja (’14 McDermott) who planned to run for Student Government President, called me and asked if I was planning on running for Vice President. While I wanted to excitedly say yes right away, it took a few days for me to make sure that it was the best decision. On one side, I loved what I was doing with Student Government and wanted to be able to expand on the work I had started my Freshman year. I wanted to be able to make permanent change on the campus for the benefit of all, but I also knew that it would cause me to change my plan for the next four years, including the date I planned to take my MCAT. I didn’t want to commit too much time and damage my chances of getting into medical school, but at the same time I knew I would be missing a big opportunity if I didn’t run. After a few plan changes I decided it would be worth it to run, even if it did set me back slightly on my path to medical school.
When I started the election process, I quickly began to realize that I had no clue how elections work. This is where Becca stepped in. From her experience as a senator in elections the previous year, she guided the preparation process and provided knowledge I would have been lost without. Together we put together a ticket of committed senators and other passionate Comets. In a few weeks, we had a group of over 20 students interested in running on our ticket, and no one had yet voiced their plan to run against us.
Then it all got difficult.
A week into the election process, Becca made the tough decision of withdrawing her nomination to pursue an incredible opportunity at the London School of Economics – one of the most difficult parts of being a McDermott is deciding which opportunity is right for you. I fully supported her decision but now scrambled to find a new Presidential candidate. After a few days, fueled by the announcement that another ticket named “Progress UTD” had decided to run, we happily decided to have Akshitha Padigela as our ticket President.
This change began a complete redo of all of our election materials. It took another week to retake pictures, change our website, and fill out all of the paperwork to make Akshitha official. With spring break looming, we finally launched the new campaign, right before everyone left campus for a week. I was leaving for Europe, but we had one final hurdle – the week that really mattered, we had election week to survive.
I arrived back from Europe on Sunday night, right as Spring Break ended. Akshitha and I began to frantically work to make sure that we had everything ready for that next morning. Flying around like Tasmanian devils, we ordered flyers, got our Facebook campaign outlined, and planned, as best as we could, to win the upcoming race
Once Tuesday rolled around, we had the campaign events. The first event was a debate between the two tickets: our ticket, “UniTeD as one,” and the other ticket, “Progress UTD.” In front of a small crowd, Akshitha outlined our platform while countering the points made by the other Presidential candidate. In preparation for the debate, I was extremely nervous about the outcome because I thought that it would decide the outcome of the election, but I soon realized it wasn’t much to worry about. The student attendance was fairly small and Akshitha did a great job defending our ticket platform to the gathered audience. Our ticket did well in the debate, but we knew that the next few days of face-to-face campaigning were going to decide the outcome.
Election voting officially started at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning. From that moment on, we hung posters, handed out flyers, painted the spirit rocks, and put chalk nearly everywhere possible. It felt like we spent every spare minute campaigning. When the results were released at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, we knew it was worth it. Everyone on our ticket was elected. We were looking forward to a great year.