The election process for the position of Student Delegate to the Board of Trustees wrapped up Monday around 3 p.m.
A 24-hour waiting period was provided before announcing the results for anyone to raise issues or concerns about the election.
As no issues were raised, the results were sent out to the student body Tuesday afternoon, announcing Chris Rich ’18 as the new Student Delegate.
This was the second round of elections, as during the first round, no candidate received 50% of the votes, so a runoff was held between the top two candidates: Chris Rich ’18 and Ryan Castle ’18. SLUWire polls were open again for a week, but the runoff had to be extended as the minimum of 655 votes needed to be recognized by the Board of Trustees had yet to be reached.
Thelmo Elections Chair Webb Campbell ’18 thinks the main reason it took longer to reach the minimum number of votes in the runoff was that students thought they did not have to vote, since they already did in the first round.
While the Thelmo Executive Board has yet to debrief, Campbell notes that to increase voter turnout next time, “I would use the Senate more and maybe table in the Student Center.”
The Hill News was able to speak with Chris Rich, who is currently studying abroad in Thailand, about his plans for next year.
The Hill News: What are you most excited for next year as the Student Delegate to the Board of Trustees?
Chris Rich: I think the thing I am most excited for is having the opportunity to expand the role and involvement of the Student Delegate on campus. I really want to push to be even more accessible than my predecessors. This means not only sending out surveys or holding forums, but also physically going to organization meetings around campus. I am making it my goal to attend several different organizations’ meetings a week while I am Student Delegate, so that people from around campus will have the opportunity to talk with me about issues, and so that I can hear what people are discussing. I believe that it is important for everyone on campus to know who their representative is and to have access to her or him. Part of this will be visiting clubs, no matter their size, that represent students of different backgrounds, as well as larger organizations like Greek life and theme houses.
THN: What are your biggest plans for next year as Student Delegate to BOT?
CR: As I mentioned, I am planning on expanding the role of the Student Delegate. I also would like to work with the trustees to get a discussion going about tuition raises on campus. I know Joe Kellogg and others are already moving forward with a discussion on a tuition freeze, and I want to be part of this. While I can’t make any promises, I think that the recent tuition rises have both caught students off guard and come without much student input, and I want this to change. Beyond tuition, I would like to work with Divest SLU and the Thelmo Environmental Conservation Committee to keep the pressure on the administration in regards to divestment and the implementation of more environmentally friendly policies.
THN: How do you think your experiences abroad for the last year will help you in your new position?
CR: I think being abroad this past year has helped me in several ways. The most obvious one is that it has given me some incredible experiences with people who are nothing like me and who often have quite different values and goals. This experience has given me greater perspective on issues ranging from religious expression to sexual harassment. Secondly, while study abroad did take me away from SLU, it put me in close proximity with other SLU students who are not from my social group back home. Living in another country with other SLU students I had never met helped me to break out of my bubble a bit and connect with parts of campus that I had never even known about. Finally, study abroad also introduced me to students from other universities, where things work differently. I had the opportunity to learn about the issues other schools face and how they deal with things, which gave me the chance to compare and gain greater perspective on SLU’s issues.
THN: What do you see as SLU’s biggest issue that you want to work to fix?
CR: I think SLU’s biggest issue right now, and it’s been an issue for a while, is the division between groups on campus and the lack of representation for some. International students and students of color are particularly underrepresented, though in many ways the average SLU student is as well. While students from theme houses and Greek life are disproportionately represented in organizations like Thelmo, the average person in Dean doesn’t have much access to decision makers and is often left out of the loop. I want to help change this by actively engaging with different parts of campus and working with the rest of the exec board to institute rules that encourage Thelmo senators to actively engage with their “constituents,” or else not be accepted onto the next term’s senate.