By Clara Snyder | Staff Writer
As the school year comes to a close, student government has ushered in a new wave of representative voices for future Baylor students.
Student body president-elect Hunter Walker claimed victory with a 61.33% majority of 1,883 votes. Walker — the Lariat Editorial Board-endorsed candidate — will be leading the 2022-2023 student population with the goals of transparency, advocacy, learning and keeping our momentum. Walker plans to advocate for a mental health day in the fall, implement a donation system to fight food insecurity on campus, extend the time that OALA shuttles run and more.
Unopposed internal vice president-elect Bethel Tesfai is aiming to impact the upcoming school year through bettering the Senate’s relationship with the student body. By emphasizing teamwork, transparency and inclusion, Tesfai said she wants to promote student engagement in the Senate’s work, so student government can better serve its fellow peers.
External vice president-elect Nick Madincea claimed 54.06% of the 3,150 votes in a race between four candidates. Madincea — the second Lariat Editorial Board-endorsed candidate — said he plans to propose a Christian Action Bus to transport students to areas in need of service in Waco, create airport transportation to DFW over holiday breaks and implement a mental health crisis training program to teach students to care for their peers in times of need.
The class of 2022’s permanent class officers were elected to be Zach Tufenkjian as class president and Tate Korpi as class secretary and treasurer.
Harrison Gossett was elected as senior class president, with 93.97% of votes in his favor.
Drake Toll claimed the position of senior class vice president with a 91.19% majority.
Mauryn Bruce was elected as senior class secretary and treasurer, with 96.54% of votes in his favor.
The 13 senior senators elected include Ginger Gordon, Clay Jeha, Dalton Capps, Ruhi Thapar, Samuel Beatty, Emma Nelson, Haley O’Donnell, Harrison Williams, Josie Pooler, Isaac Montgomery, Caleb Eliazer and Jesse O’Driscoll.
Junior class president-elect Collin Bass claimed his position with 95.45% of the votes.
Patrick Curran, junior vice president-elect, won the position with 11.87% of write-in votes.
Junior class secretary and treasurer-elect Sofi Reyes claimed her position with 96.38% of the votes.
The 13 junior senators elected include David Schmitt, Lalia Donawa, Krista Wichterman, Gabi Vela, Ifunanyaife Richardson, Elise Willingham, Michelle Tasaki, McKenzie Arata, Katy Mae Turner, Jackson Woodruff, Aqsa Maknojla, Kameron Butler-Phillip and Noel Sengel.
Connor Cabot was elected to be sophomore class president with a 94.45% majority.
Taylor Chung, sophomore class vice president-elect, claimed victory with 79.61% of the votes.
Nidhi Kotha was elected to be sophomore class secretary and treasurer, claiming a 94.27% majority.
The 13 sophomore senators elected include Logan Lee, Grace Lent, Lily Davis, Will Johnson, Luke D’Ambrosio, Kylee Schwartz, Brinkley Bounds, Lilly Hawkins, Annika Bos, Andrew Maxfield, Joely English, Don Tran and Maggie Cielesz.
2021-2022 student body president Gracie Kelliher said when reflecting on the school year, student government had a lot of success that she cannot take credit for alone. Kelliher said the increase in funds for future on-campus projects, the expansion of the graduation gown rental program, the increase in food options at the campus food pantry and many other accomplishments were the product of hard work from the 150 individuals composing the organization.
“Good leadership is sustainable, and it means that people can carry on without you,” Kelliher said. “The organization should be able to keep doing what it’s doing and do it well, regardless of who the leader is.”
Kelliher said when she came into the role of student body president, she was nervous about the notion of getting closer to the top. According to Kelliher, her initial fear was being exposed to parts of Baylor that would ruin the idealistic image she had of her school.
“[But] as that image became more realistic, the exact opposite has happened,” Kelliher said. “I have fallen so much more in love with Baylor than I ever expected to because of the people who work here. [The faculty] is so willing to take redirection, recommendations and input. Although they’re the experts in how an institution runs … they care about [students] as individuals.”
Kelliher said it has been a blessing to walk alongside her peers and get to know their passions while helping them work on those passions to make Baylor a better place.
“Getting to watch people grow and take up space for themselves has been a really cool opportunity,” Kelliher said. “I never even knew to pray for an opportunity like this, but the Lord has been so generous to even give me the chance to experience Baylor this way.”
According to Kelliher, serving on student government has taught her what kind of leadership to look for in future endeavors. Kelliher said she will leave Baylor striving to surround herself with people living according to the values they claim to be pursuing.
“Every job I look for out of college, I’m going to ask myself, ‘Are these leaders people I want to be more like, and how genuine does that feel?'” Kelliher said. “Because it did take me a while, four years here, to learn how genuine it feels on this end.”
Kelliher said she encourages all future Baylor students to be willing to stand up for what they want and what they believe in. According to Kelliher, Baylor is the perfect environment to exercise your voice in because people are willing not only to listen to you but also to fight alongside you.
“I think if you’re willing to learn, willing to show up and put in the time, you care about Baylor, and you want to be a good representation of the incredible set of students that we have here, then I think it’s a job anybody could do,” Kelliher said.