By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer
The race for next year’s external vice president continues on Tuesday since Hoffman Estates, Ill., junior Zach Tufenkjian and Austin sophomore Hunter Walker qualified for a runoff in last week’s Student Government election.
Tufenkjian said to win the election outright last week, he would have had to have a 12% margin over the second place candidate. Instead, he received around 40% and Walker received around 46% of the students’ votes.
Tufenkjian said he was pleased about the amount of support he received. He said runoff elections historically have less voter turnout, but he would love for the whole student body to participate.
“My message would be: definitely vote on Tuesday in the runoff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. because this election is not over,” Tufenkjian said. “As I like to tell all the people that support me and my campaign workers, this fight is not over. It’s so very important that we continue carrying it on, not just even past the runoff but for many months and years to come.”
Walker said he was encouraged by the voting results, but said that everyone needs to come out and vote again.
“The EVP office has an awesome opportunity to walk along a biblical call to make disciples of all nations and to carry the light that shines bright that Baylor’s marketing team has put forward upon us and to really bridge our community out from Baylor University to extend to the greater Waco population, and that requires discipleship and relationship building,” Walker said. “That’s why we need to walk with the Waco community, and we need to pursue that unity and community. So just one final time, I would love to ask the student body to see that call, to engage with the community to walk with them and to pursue unity and community along with me.”
Tufenkjian said if he is elected to the position, one of his goals is to be open and accountable.
“I’ll be very visible on my social media … whether that’d be the Student Government account or any other account I have access to as EVP in really publicizing what I’m doing: the issues I’ve worked on, the issues I’m currently working on, the issues I want to work on and what actionable steps I’ve taken towards that,” Tufenkjian said. “That also means … being transparent and welcoming to the student body. We need to create a welcoming and caring environment that is comforting for our student body. My office would be wide open to any student, regardless of their ideology, regardless of their policy proposals, their opinions, to come in and speak directly to me.”
Boerne sophomore and Student Senator Addison Knight said Tufenkjian’s record in student government speaks for itself and that she believes he is the most qualified and experienced candidate.
“He knows our constitution and the ins and outs of Student Government more than anyone else, probably more than anyone else in student government history,” Knight said. “He’s the one we all go to for constitutional questions. He knows what you can and can’t do for everything. So, not only can he recognize that certain things need to be written into legislation, but he knows exactly how to do it, and he has gotten all of those things done. Unfortunately, with somebody who doesn’t have that type of experience, no matter how much they want certain things to happen, it’s just going to take them a lot longer to get it done. They aren’t going to understand some of the nuances of student government like Zach does, and he’s proved that.”
Boerne senior Kailee Coward, director of administration in the executive branch of Student Government, said she worked closely with Tufenkjian when she was deputy attorney general.
“He’s one of the most organized and driven people that I’ve ever had the chance of working alongside or being able to even know,” Coward said. “He just always, always had all of his ducks in a row and knew exactly what needed to happen and always had fresh, new, creative ideas.”
Coward also said Tufenkjian’s experience will allow him to make an impact on campus.
“This role is a huge, huge role that has a lot of responsibility tied to it,” Coward said. “Not only are you working for the students at the university, but you’re also going to be seen a lot in the Waco community and working with people that are higher up in Baylor. I think it just goes back to connections and knowing what needs to happen in the position and how to get that done. I think that’s where his experience really gives him an upper hand is that, again, he’s been working with these people for three years. He knows exactly what students are needing, what that need is and how to address it and how to get that done.”
Walker said he wants the student body to keep him accountable and voice their opinions.
“I want to communicate that the office of the external vice president is a resource for the student population,” Walker said. “I want them to feel like they have just as much input as I do. I want to be as approachable as possible, whether that’s through social media, through email or through office hours to promote: ‘This is where I am. This is my office. This is our office time.”
Rocklin, Calif., sophomore Taylor Williams, a member of Walker’s campaign team, said Walker is the best candidate because of his passion for the Waco community.
“He’s so dedicated to service and commitment just outside of Baylor’s own campus, and really just tying in anyone he can from the city of Waco, but specifically the youth with the Baylor campus,” Williams said. “Because he’s so sure that Baylor students can do so much more than we already are, in terms of our service outside of just our own student organizations, and he just really wants to do anything he can to get us connected into the community on a more regular basis.”
Williams said Walker wants to make a difference in the community.
“He truly sees so much potential in the city of Waco and so much potential in the Baylor community,” Williams said. “His platform has been mutually beneficial service. He sees so many opportunities that can both help improve the city of Waco and help people in Baylor’s community to learn and grow. He truly cares about this, … it’s not just a means to an end for him. It’s truly caring about connecting people and making a difference in this world and in this community.”
Plains junior Bryce McWhirter said the first thing he noticed about Walker was his dedication to service.
“I believe what Hunter wants to do with his platform as an external vice president is to empower the Baylor community to be involved outside of Baylor and outside of its doors and be more involved with Waco,” McWhirter said. “I believe he understands the pros and cons of what Waco is facing right now, and honestly, I believe he would just do a phenomenal job in helping empower Baylor students to help Waco.”