Duo edges Hart, Richard-Snipes by fewer than 150 votes
By Sam Rabuck, Content Editor
Cameron Cook and Ryan Grogan were named the next student body president and vice president, respectively, on Saturday at the Memorial Union Building. Cook, a sophomore, and Grogan, a junior, will take over for current SBP Joe Sweeney and SBVP Garrett McGlory on May 1.
Voting polls were open on Wildcat Link from Monday to Thursday last week. When it was all said and done, Cook and Grogan outgained Giselle Hart (SBP) and her running mate Rob Richard-Snipes (SBVP) in first place votes by a tally of 627 to 509.
“The thing that feels the greatest right now is all the hard work that [Grogan] and I put in, all the late nights, the hanging up posters, the coming up with ideas, sometimes frustrating times discussing if we were doing things right, all of those good things paid off,” Cook said.
The number of total votes this year was 1163. Although the exact number of votes from last year’s election was unavailable on Saturday, Senate Parliamentarian Gabe Hoffman confirmed this year’s total was higher. Hoffman was later elected the next Senate Speaker.
This year’s election also featured two different student body president and vice president duos, as opposed to last year when only Sweeney and McGlory were on the ballot.
“It sounds obvious, but the fact that we have two groups that actively care about the student body so that people have a choice and that competition forces each [candidate] to be better, is the biggest thing that anybody could ask for,” Hoffman said. “Anybody in Student Senate or that’s involved would tell you that’s the most important thing, having choices to make each candidate better and so students have options.”
Cook was also quick to express his respect for Hart and Richard-Snipes, and he noted that he was proud to run against such worthy opponents.
“[Hart and Richard-Snipes] gave us a hard-fought campaign,” Cook said. “They came out swinging. It feels good to have won it against an actual competitor. There’s something rewarding about winning against legitimate competition.”
Hart and Richard-Snipes could not be reached for comment after the election results were released.
Cook and Grogan were able to get the word out about their campaign early, having the required petition of 300 undergraduate student signatures filled out on the first day back from winter break.
“We got out there fast, so we didn’t’ have to worry about the signatures,” Grogan said. “We went to so many dorms and hall councils and talked to them. We talked to a bunch of sororities and fraternities and were able to have those conversations without worrying about the signatures. That really helped us with the election.”
Cook and Grogan’s campaign also featured a series of videos that were made available on their campaign’s Facebook page, something that Cook feels gave the two an edge by allowing voters to get an idea of their goals and mission as potential office holders. Cook also made it a priority in campaigning to make himself available by visiting student organization and providing both his and Grogan’s cell phone numbers and email addresses to students.
“I want students to know they can reach out to us any time,” Cook said. “No matter what their question is, I guarantee it’s not silly and I will be happy to sit down with them.”
Cook plans to get to work immediately after taking office on May 1 by meeting with leaders of student organizations to develop what he calls the “Student Strategic Plan.” Cook explained that the plan will be similar to the university’s strategic plan, but with a “student flavor” to it in the sense that it is a reflection of student leaders’ wants, thus making it a reflection of the student body’s wants. Cook mentioned specifically garnering the opinions of student organization leaders such as those of the Campus Activity Board, the Student Committee on Popular Entertainment and the Student Environmental Action Coalition, calling Grogan and himself conduits and organizers for these opinions.
“I don’t want [the strategic plan] to be written by the Student Senate,” Cook said. “I want the strategic plan to be rubber stamped by the Student Senate. I want the opinion-leaders of [the strategic plan] and the ones who do all the writing to be members of student orgs.”
As for the overarching mission of the plan, Cook wants it to be what he calls a “conversation driver.”
“I want it to be something that students can use to hold the student body president and vice president and student senate in general accountable to students so that they’re actually doing things and doing things the student body wants to see them do,” Cook said.