Saint Mary’s elects Nelson-Allen ticket as its next student government leaders
Maria Leontaras | Monday, February 25, 2019
Juniors Terra Nelson and Olivia Allen were elected Saint Mary’s student body president and vice president for the 2019-2020 term after an election held Thursday. The ticket’s election over juniors Emma Schmidt and Andrea Ruiz-Montoya was announced Friday afternoon via an email to the student body.
Nelson, the incoming Student Government Association (SGA) president, said she was pleased with the execution of the work she and Allen, her vice president, put into their campaign, noting that one of their goals was to interact with as many students as possible before the election.
“I think you reach more people when you’re meeting and conversing with them and sharing your ideas,” she said. “In the budget, we wanted to have money set aside for our pop-up events. They were useful and beneficial to our campaign because instead of spending $80 on color posters … we’re going to … plant ourselves everywhere around the school and try to reach people.”
Though the pair spent less money on posters, Allen said their signage did have an impact on the outcome of the election.
“A lot of people really backed us,” she said. “People enjoyed seeing our poster that had 10 things we wanted to accomplish on it. I walked to get The Observer after the endorsement in the dining hall, and there were two girls in front of our poster. One was talking to her friend and said, ‘This is why I voted for them. Look at these ideas.’ That was really cool to see that even people we’re not friends with or people we didn’t get the chance to talk to were still like, ‘I love their ideas,’ or ‘I voted for them not because they’re my friends or I think they’re cute,’ but because they genuinely like our ideas.”
Allen said she also enjoyed being able to directly engage with problems that matter to the student body in the College’s first presidential debate.
“We actually really enjoyed the debate,” she said. “While that was never done before, it was really helpful to put us on the spot and hear the questions that the student body has submitted about what they want to see and what they want to have done at Saint Mary’s, and we were able to say this is exactly what we want to do and not just read off our platform.”
The ticket said they ran on the notion of tenacity and tradition. Nelson said upholding the traditions of the College does not equate to promoting a community of division.
“In no way do we think tradition means we’re going to be exclusive, and we don’t want certain members to be a part of our community,” Nelson said. “It was like, ‘Let’s uphold the tradition of the women that founded this College and the amazing alumnae that have come from this College. Let’s stay true to that; let’s work towards being better.’ … I think that was really interesting, balancing tradition and being progressive. You can do both. You can look and the College and say, ‘This place is amazing. We want to make it better, and part of making it better is being more progressive and maybe giving some push back to things that have been the norm.’”
Allen said the pair is already looking forward to putting their platform points into action.
“Right after we won on Friday, we looked at each other and said, ‘When are we going to start going to meetings? Let’s do this thing,’” Allen said.
One of the ticket’s priorities, Nelson said, is restructuring first-year orientation. This plan includes improving the state of the College’s Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), which is currently leaderless.
“We will begin in April, and hopefully we can make some little tweaks, and a big tweak to the College in hiring a BAVO director, or interim, or even just an advisor, someone to be with those women,” Nelson said. “[We are also set on] starting the all-hall Masses, so that when the first years are here, it’s part of the routine. Trying to open up Regina, so that at the beginning of the year, that is open. … We want to work to start as soon as possible.”
Both Nelson and Allen said they understand there is more to being in charge than having the positions of president and vice president.
“We understand that this isn’t just a title. It really is work, and that’s where that tenacity comes in,” Nelson said. “We want to work hard, and we want to get it done. We both have such get-it-done personalities, I don’t want to just sit around.”
Nelson said she and Allen are grateful to be able to serve a community for which they care deeply.
“Women that don’t even know us that well or maybe have only seen us in the dining hall or read our platform supporting us and standing behind us and showing kindness is just the most beautiful thing, and reminds me of why I attend this college and why I am so humbled to be able to represent a student body that is beautiful, unique, diverse and different,” Nelson said.