The crowd of nearly 70 strong outside of Thompson Hall – filled with students, supporters, student senators and University of New Hampshire administrators – burst into passionate cheers and applause as Student Senate Speaker Nicholas LaCourse announced the winners of the 2019 Student Body General Elections on Friday, March 29: Allison MacPhee and Kelsey Crowley as student body president-elect and vice president-elect, respectively, and Cailee Griffin as the next student trustee.
In the moments following the announcement, the newly elected candidates could be seen hugging and thanking their supporters, as well as giving and receiving congratulations to and from their competitors, all while sporting looks of shock, excitement and gratitude.
“Allie’s done so much; like, she’s done such a great job and I couldn’t have done a better running mate” Crowley said following the announcement, adding that she looks forward to being a “student” again after weeks of campaigning.
“We’re excited to keep working together, work with the other candidates, and utilized all that everybody’s gathered throughout the campaign season, too,” MacPhee added between tears of joy.
“It’s really overwhelming, I’m really excited, I’m really humbled,” Griffin said. “And I can’t believe the number of students who voted this year. It’s so important students chose to get involved this year; they came out and spoke up for what they believed in, and I’m just really happy that students have faith in me…I want to make everyone proud.”
In addition to the crowd of students and undergraduate supporters that gathered under the campus’ central clocktower, the event also saw appearances by Dean of Students John T. Kirkpatrick, Student Body President Ethan McClanahan, Student Body Vice President Jake Adams and UNH President James W. Dean, Jr., who kicked off the event by expressing “solidarity” with UNH’s student government organizations in a short address to attendees.
“…I’m here today because I believe that student leadership is really important to this university,” President Dean said. “As I’ve learned this year in my first year as president…it builds a bridge of collaboration between the student body and the administration, which is really important. And this is a wonderful university, and we would be a less wonderful university without student government, without student leadership, and I know that to be true.”
Following the event, MacPhee and Crowley’s opponents – Student Senator Joseph Ramirez (Non-Resident 8) and the Senate’s Campus Structure Council Chair Devon Guyer for student body president and vice president, respectively – issued a statement from their campaign on Instagram, congratulating the winners and stated that “[e]ven though we didn’t get the results we wanted we want to thank @vote.macrowley for running a hell of a campaign. Thank you UNH for being the best University in the country we love you all.”
Current office holders, such as Student Trustee Christian Merheb, also expressed positive thoughts on the campaigns.
“I mean, I saw two good candidates [Griffin and Sullivan] run really great campaigns; they went out and met with a lot of students, which is what this whole process is about,” he told The New Hampshire after the event. “And they got their messages and they got their platform across; and, in the end, the students voted and expressed who they would like to see in the role. And at the end of the day, that’s all that I could hope for: making sure that students turn out, engage in the process and continue pushing forward.”
Friday’s announcement marked the end of a tumultuous month-long campaign featuring intense debate and record voter turnout. Per Student Senate election results data, the 2019 campaign season saw 29.6 percent of eligible Durham undergraduates (or 3,648 out of 12,311 eligible voters) casting a ballot, the highest since the body began tracking voter turnout in 2012. By contrast, last year’s election saw only 14.22 percent of Durham undergraduates (or 1,844 voters) participating in the process. The previous high had been in 2013 with 24.81 percent of voters (or 3,178 undergraduates) casting a ballot.
Of those voters, 2,361 voters (64.37 percent of active voters) cast their first-choice ballot for the MacPhee/Crowley ticket, compared to 1,256 first-choice ballots (34.24 percent) for Ramirez and Guyer. This was Ramirez’s second time running for the office of Student Body President, having narrowly lost to McClanahan and Adams in last year’s election with running mate Thomas Libby. The remaining 51 votes (or 1.39 percent), meanwhile, went to write-in candidates.
In the race for student trustee, 2,391 out of 3,626 total voters (or 65.94 percent of participants) voted for Griffin, while 1,202 voters (or 33.15 percent of undergraduates) cast a ballot for her opponent, the Senate’s current External Affairs Council Chair Liam Sullivan. The remaining 33 votes (or 0.91 percent) went to write-in candidates.
Speaker LaCourse said that students “answered our call” to vote, calling this year’s turnout “astronomical.” He also thanked the candidates and Student Senate Election Committee for their efforts in the election and added that he hopes the higher participation “becomes a new UNH tradition.”
“I think this year there was really a focus on, from the candidates, getting out and talking to students directly,” LaCourse said. “I know that, quite literally, hundreds of student orgs were reached out to, thousands upon thousands of students were talked to both within their student orgs and in classes, around campus, you know, in the fraternity and sorority houses…I think there was a lot of focus this year on the ground game.”
MacPhee, a sophomore information systems and business analytics major and the Student Senate’s current senior financial advisor, and Crowley, a sophomore political science major and non-resident student senator, will succeed current Student Body President Ethan McClanahan and Student Body Vice President Jake Adams at the end of their respective terms on May 1. Griffin, a junior political science and international affairs dual major, will succeed current Student Trustee Merheb at the end of his term on July 1.