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McIlduff-Seifert victorious in close election

Megan O'Neil | Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Propelled by strong leadership experience and a wealth of specific proposals, junior Susan McIlduff and sophomore Maggie Seifert were elected Saint Mary’s student body president and vice president in a close election Monday.

The winning ticket garnered 287 votes, or 54 percent, while their opponents, junior Amanda Shropshire and sophomore Annie Davis, earned 236 votes, or 44 percent. A total of 532 students voted, representing 36 percent of the student body, a statistic comparable to last year’s 38 percent voter participation. There were nine abstentions.

The candidates were not allowed to campaign Monday as students cast their votes from 8 a.m. until midnight and had to wait until the outcome was announced Tuesday at 8:45 a.m.

“I was extremely excited, I felt as though a week of hard work had paid off,” McIlduff said.

McIlduff and Seifert, along with their opponents, spent the last week knocking on doors, distributing fliers and answering students’ questions on everything from their definition of a Saint Mary’s woman to how they intend to communicate with the student body.

“The campaign was very intense but it was extremely fun to go around and meet all the Saint Mary’s women,” Seifert said. “I got to know a little more about Saint Mary’s and all the different women who are on campus. It was hard work, and I am happy I did it.”

At the top of the winning pair’s campaign platform was their intention to make detailed course requirements available to students before they enrolled in a class and to simplify the add and drop process. McIlduff and Seifert also promised to ensure a strong student voice in the vice presidential search committees as the College seeks to replaced Vice President and Dean of Faculty Pat White and Vice President of Student Activities Linda Timm.

McIlduff, who currently serves as student body vice president and was chief of staff under student body president Sarah Catherine White last year, was able to highlight her extensive leadership roles on campus as she encouraged students to vote for her.

Seifert said she received warm congratulations from friends and family, including her two older sisters, one of whom served as Saint Mary’s student body president during the 1998-99 academic year.

“I was really excited and grateful to be elected vice president of the Saint Mary’s student body,” Seifert said. “I am excited to get started accomplishing everything on our to-do list.”

Both McIlduff and Seifert expressed admiration for Shropshire and Davis and said they hope the women will participate in student government in some capacity next year.

“Amanda and Annie have worked extremely to make Saint Mary’s a better place … and it was extremely evident throughout the campaign,” Seifert said.

The timing of the election, which took place exactly one week after the first day of class of the new semester, caused some grumbling on campus. With an extra week of winter break this year, the vote seemed to arrive even earlier and give students little time to weigh in on the candidates.

Elections commissioner Danielle Lerner said it is the responsibility of the elections commissioner to sit down with Student Activities Director George Rosenbush and schedule the elections in such a way that allows for the student body elections, Student Diversity Board (SDB) elections and Residence Hall Association (RHA) elections all to take place before board turnover.

Having the presidential-vice presidential election so early has its pros and cons, Lerner said, but ultimately it was a success.

“Since it was the first week back, we hoped that most students would not be too busy to participate in election activities and it would also give the candidates a chance to campaign without having dozens of other academic commitments,” Lerner said. “Overall, I think the election went well. We had minimal complaints, and each ticket took extra care to avoid any violations.”

Despite the quick timing of the election, McIlduff said she was impressed by student response as she canvassed the campus and said she is looking forward to turnover on April 1.

“We felt as though everyone was engaged,” McIlduff said. “It was the first week back, and everyone was a little shocked that it was so soon.”

Any change in the elections scheduling would be up to the next elections commissioner, Lerner said.

“As of now, we are looking forward to the Student Diversity Board and Residence Hall Association elections on February 13 and the class elections on February 20,” Lerner said. “We encourage all students to stay informed and continue casting their votes for next year’s student leaders.”

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