SGA elections marked by record turnout

Sam Chandler, Managing Editor

The Samford student body made its voice heard on Monday, March 27.

For the second straight year, a record number of undergraduates voted in the Student Government Association elections. According to voting data provided by SGA Press Secretary Olivia Halverson, the submitted ballot total jumped from 1,594 in 2016 to 1,609 this spring.

“I’m overwhelmingly pleased with student-voter turnout, and not just student-voter turnout, but how well students engaged with the election season and engaged with getting to know their candidates,” Halverson said.

Monday’s elections capped a busy post-Spring Break swing for most candidates. Nine of the 12 student executive board and class officer positions were decided in the general election, which was held following a week of heavy campaigning.

The three positions not decided in the general election—vice president for senate, junior class vice president and sophomore class vice president—were filled in runoff elections held Wednesday. Porter Rivers, the current SGA president, said that runoffs are necessary when no single candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote. 

Nelson Park, a junior public administration major, was able to avoid a runoff scenario. He bested junior sociology major Kendall Luna in their race to become Rivers’ successor as the next SGA president.

Park has served in student government since his freshman year and is the current vice president for senate.

“It’s truly an honor to be voted in as president,” Park said Tuesday. “I think that SGA matters and that representing students’ voices matters. It’s neat to know that people would entrust me to speak on their behalf and to be their voice. It’s really an honor.”

Rivers has worked closely with Park this academic year due to their roles on the student executive board. He said his colleague is well equipped to fill his shoes.

“Just getting to work with Nelson has been such a privilege and honor this past year, because Nelson is somebody who really is genuine in his actions, and he goes out of his way honestly just to get to know the people,” Rivers said. ”I think that’s a huge part of this role, is the relationships that you make.”

The two finalists to replace Park as vice president for senate were sophomores Lily Haskins and James Hornsby. Hornsby, a business major, won Wednesday’s runoff.

Vice president for events and vice president for development were the two other student executive board spots filled in Monday’s election. Sophomore marketing, management and entrepreneurship major Mollie Master defeated junior marketing major Marie Whitmire to seal the vice president for events race. Sophomore law, politics and society major Trent Taylor ran uncontested and will be vice president for development.

Rivers said that all of the individual candidates, regardless of the outcome of their races, conducted themselves professionally on the campaign trail and made solid efforts to connect with their constituents. All elected candidates will be inaugurated on April 25 at 5 p.m. in Cooney Hall.

“We, as SGA, appreciate the student support and vote,” Rivers said. “That’s something that obviously we can’t do without them, and we just appreciate their recognition of SGA and how supportive they are of the candidates.”

In addition to electing SGA officials, students also voted on the adoption of a university Honor Pledge. It was approved overwhelmingly.

According to Halverson, votes cast in favor of the pledge outweighed those opposing it 1,401 to 107. The pledge will now be sent to the university’s Board of Trustees for formal endorsement and should be introduced to incoming students at the beginning of next school year.

“The passage of the Honor Pledge is a tremendous affirmation that the student body is ready to take ownership of our identity as Samford students,” said Stone Hendrickson, a senior SGA senator who has chaired the Honor Pledge Committee this academic year. “I believe that the vote will allow us to create a new tradition of Samford students taking increased responsibility for this community.”

2017 SGA Election results

Student Executive Board

President: Nelson Park

*Vice President for Senate: James Hornsby

Vice President for Events: Mollie Master

Vice President for Development: Trent Taylor

Senior Class

President: Sydney Murphy

Vice President: Emily Miller

Junior Class

President: Lucy Kate Green

* Vice President: John Collier

Secretary/Treasurer: Macy Marin

Sophomore Class

President: Woody Connell

* Vice President: Angel Sims

Secretary/Treasurer: Annie Roache

*Indicates position decided in Wednesday’s runoff elections 

This article was updated at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 30, to include the results of Wednesday’s runoff elections and to indicate that Nelson Park won the race to become current SGA President Porter Rivers’ successor. The print edition of the article mistakenly said that Park won the race to become Rivers’ predecessor. 


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