| 03.18.2018

Elected and energized

New 2015 ASUI senators voted in

University of Idaho sophomore Taylor Willey said he wasn’t sure his name would be called as the newly elected ASUI senators were announced. 

Philip Vukelich | Argonaut Newly elected senators stand together after the results announcement was made. (left to right) Cruz Botello, Michael Ryan, Zoe Ball, Keely Snow, Brianna Larson and Taylor Wiliey.

Philip Vukelich | Argonaut
Newly elected senators stand together after the results announcement was made. (left to right) Cruz
Botello, Michael Ryan, Zoe Ball, Keely Snow, Brianna Larson and Taylor Wiliey.

Despite Willey’s concern, as the vote results were revealed after elections closed Nov. 19, Willey, along with six other candidates, was voted into a year-long ASUI senate position.

Other newly elected ASUI senators include Brianna Larson, Cruz Botello, Rachael Miller, Zoe Ball, Keely Snow and Michael Ryan.

ASUI election coordinators were hoping for 1,100 students to vote in the election, but only 754 voters participated. Of those votes, 424 were from the Greek community, 121 were from the residence halls, 119 were off-campus students and 77 were off-campus Greek students. ASUI Vice President Sarah Vetsmany said she thinks low participation offers another challenge to ASUI.

“I think it just gives current ASUI members, like myself and other senators and executive members, a shove to advertise ourselves for elections and open forums and not just leave that responsibility to (the election coordinators),” Vetsmany said. “I think that if there is a greater overall effort from all of ASUI, rather than just from the election coordinators, there’s going to be a better turnout.”

Each of the elected students said they plan to move forward with their individual platforms and projects in the coming year.

Willey said he is excited to get involved and represent the student body come January.

“I’m really looking forward to that first ASUI meeting because, even though it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment, I’m looking forward to seeing how everything works and having a say in it all,” Willey said.

Willey said he attributes his win to the productive conversations he had with fellow students throughout the campaign process, as well as the support of the people he met during his two years at UI. Willey said he felt comfortable with the election process and is grateful for the people who supported him.

Larson, a junior, said she is thankful to students who took a vested interest in the elections, particularly some students who responded with specific questions to an email Larson sent to students when the polls were open. Although Larson said she was disappointed at the low student turnout at open forums, she was thankful for the current ASUI members that were actively present during elections.

“Tanner Beymer (ASUI director of policy) came to almost every open forum, so did Eric Alvarez,” Larson said. “They were really helpful and always answered questions afterwards … that was really great.”

Snow, one of three freshmen elected, said she is also excited to work with the current leadership in ASUI.

“I’m really excited to start working with the teams they already have and working with the student body on all their exciting projects,” Snow said. “It was really exciting when they called my name.”

Vetsmany said it’s a good thing many of the incoming senators are young, because it will bring a new perspective to ASUI. Excluding Larson, the new senators are all freshmen or sophomores.

“I feel like they’re all fresh-minded,” Vetsmany said. “I’m really excited to have a whole new group with new and innovative ideas, and they all seem like individuals who will just go out there and find tasks.”

Ball and Ryan both served as ASUI senators previously and Ryan said he is glad to be able to continue with the ideas and tasks he and Ball have been involved in during the fall semester.

“I felt confident because I had done the work, so that was an advantage — knowing what to expect,” Ryan said. “After being elected, I knew what it would consist of and that we’d have committee tasks.”

Ryan said the race itself was fun and the candidates were kept in constant communication with the election coordinators about events. The most challenging part, Ryan said, was the lack of student involvement and the low number of votes.

Miller, a sophomore, said she is looking forward to making senators more accessible to students to hear their comments and concerns about student life.

Ball said she was pleased and excited to be reelected into ASUI to continue the projects she is working on as a current senator, including a graduate journal sharing UI graduates’ experiences.

Botello said he is most excited about becoming a senator who is approachable and personable and  is interested in learning how ASUI functions within the university. Botello said if his own platform ideas need to be tabled to accomplish larger senate goals, he’s willing to wait to implement his ideas.

“I’m willing to do whatever the rest of the senate requires me to do so I’m ready to take on any jobs,” Botello said.

Botello and the new senators may have plenty of jobs to tackle in the coming year. Vetsmany said the major issues facing ASUI senate include the proposed tobacco ban, the weapons policy and amnesty policy talks with the Moscow Police Department. Vetsmany said she’s confident in the new senators’ abilities to handle these issues.

“They’re all fresh, they all seem ready to hit the ground running,” Vetsmany said. “I’d say that they’re definitely a more vocal group, so I’m excited to see how they mesh with the current senators.”

Cara Pantone can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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