Luis Romero and Colton Ray have been elected as student body president and vice president, respectively, following EMU’s Student Government elections.
Romero and Ray received 247 votes, or 52% of the total vote. Jack Swartzinski and Allanah Morales, the other duo running for president and vice president, came just shy of that at 226 votes, or 48% of the vote. There were 473 total votes cast during the 36 hour period of voting.
“I’m so excited to be able to give back to this university, just like it has for me,“ Student Body President-elect, Luis Romero, said shortly after results were announced. "Colton and I have thrown our hearts, our time, and our tears into this campaign.”
Jack Swartzinski was most recently parliamentarian of the student body Senate. In a statement to the Echo, he wished the incoming leadership well.
“We came up short today, but I couldn’t be prouder of all the hard work my friends and supporters put in,“ Swartzinski said. "It was really close. I’m so proud I got to work with Allanah Morales, she is an incredible leader and she is going to do great things. I wish the president and vice president-elect good luck in their new jobs, they have a difficult job ahead. I am happy with my work with Student Government, I have no regrets.”
There are approximately 15,000 undergraduate students at EMU, so a voter turnout of 473 translates to just above 3%. According to Leigh Greden, the faculty co-advisor to the Student Government, voter turnout in EMU Student Government elections can vary between between 1,000 and 3,000 voters depending on the year and the number of candidates.
"When COVID-19 hit every sense of normal campaigning was thrown out the window. We knew that if we were to win, we had to adapt . . . it was tough,“ Romero said. "Yet we knew deep down we could do this. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but there is no such thing as a perfect campaign . . . I want to give a sincere shout out to Jack and Allanah. I know they put so much time and effort into their campaign. I know they will succeed in their future endeavors. I have the utmost respect for the both of them and the positive impact they made in Student Government.”
"I am excited to lead with Student Body President-elect Luis Romero, and build off of the success and stewardship that Ethan Smith and Hajer Abuzir brought to Student Government during these tumultuous times,” Ray said. "I also want to thank Jack Swartzinski and Allanah Morales for running a campaign that helped put students’ needs at the forefront of this election cycle. I can’t wait to help create new relationships between EMU Student Government and the large number of student organizations based on campus.”
Romero and Ray had campaigned on a five step plan that focused on housing insecurity, food insecurity, mental health, affordable transportation, and administrative transparency. Their goals include:
- Creating a housing scholarship to offset the cost burden of students due to increasing costs of housing on and off campus.
- Allow students to donate any leftover meal swipes to students who may be experiencing food insecurity. They are also working towards a low-income meal plan.
- They hope to increase funding for Counseling and Psychological Services to lower the counselor to student ratio (in order to decrease wait times), and diversify counselors employed in the department.
- Free parking for shoppers at Swoops Food Pantry as well as free University busing to local grocery stores, Depot Town, and Ozone House are among other changes Romero and Ray plan to make a priority.
- In order to increase student attendance at Student Senate, Faculty Senate, and Board of Regents meetings, Romero and Ray plan to hold bi-weekly Student Government lobby tables.
"Many of the issues our student body faces are ones that myself and Luis face as well,” Ray said. "I hope we can reach students who at this moment, may not even be aware that our university has a student government, along with students who unfortunately are not able to participate as much as they would like to in student organizations, who are primarily focused on just making rent, not losing their financial aid this semester, or even staying alive. I have learned, and try to remind myself every day, to not take anything in this life for granted. We have a lot of work to do, and Luis and I are here for it all.”
Ray thanked specific organizations in his statement to the Echo. The Muslim Student Association, Arab Student Union, and Students for Justice in Palestine were named for their endorsements of the campaign. Members of Active Minds, Young Democratic Socialists of America at EMU, Phi Sigma Phi-Lambda Chapter, Planned Parenthood Next Gen along with "any other student organizations whose membership uplifted, shared, and vouched for mine and Luis’ campaign and our personal character,“ were additionally thanked.
Romero and Ray will take office on Monday, Oct. 5.
Romero being elected as Student Body President means he cannot serve as a student body senator, which he was also on the ballot for.