Brandon Gustafson and Amy Ring were named Oakland University Student Congress president and vice president, respectively, at an announcement event in the Oakland Center’s Fireside Lounge Friday at noon.
A record turnout of 2,796 students voted in the election, despite early snafus that had the voting website up later than expected and early ballot errors. According to Center for Student Activities Director Jean Ann Miller, the number hovered around 1,000 last year.
Gustafson and Ring defeated opposing tickets Cameron Schea/ Mike Diedrich and Saman Waquad/ Laura DeSanto by capturing 1,429 votes or about 48 percent of the vote.
Students also voted in 16 legislators: Andrew Gustafsson, Nick McCormick, Steve Cox, Stephanie Love, Ashley Marthen, Ashley Forton, Trang Le, Christina Quigley, Joshua Solomon, Matthew Parks, Shakita Billy, James Kaminski, Brett McIsaac, Maria Willett, Hawra Abogilal and Richard Spiegel.
The club sports referendum was also passed with a 1,785-469 vote, which now allows club sports to be a directly funded branch of the Student Activities Funding Board. Club sports now will receive five percent of student activity fees.
Gustafson and Ring will be sworn in Monday to begin their administration. They are now settling into their new responsibilities by hiring an executive board. Applications are available at the OUSC office at 62 Oakland Center.
OUSC experience is not required to apply for the various positions.
The Oakland Post sat down to learn more about the new student body president and vice president.
Q: What’s the journey been like from when you decided to run until now?
Amy: I would just describe it as intense.
Brandon: Yeah, it was intense.
Q: Do you feel there was any “dirty campaigning” in this aggressive campaign? Grievances were filed at the validations meeting Thursday, which were not entertained.
Brandon: I don’t know exactly dirty campaigning, just I guess sometimes rumors get spread and they just kind of like catch on. But there’s so many people involved with this election in general, like almost 3,000 people voted. So it’s not really dirty campaigning.
Amy: I think it was just super intense this year because there was a lot of big names running that were very popular and very well-known in some aspect on campus. And so I just think that emotions were higher.
In the past it’s been like you kind of knew who was going to win like the entire time, and I mean yeah we felt confident, but there was never any guarantee ’cause we knew that we were running against big names.
So I think that just everyone was more intense because they were thinking back to two years ago when Steve Clark won by seven votes and everyone was just like desperate for every single vote that they could get.
Brandon: Plus, a lot of the tickets came in with already strong supporters like obviously Mike and Cam had SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon), so that’s a whole group. They’re fraternity brothers that are backing them and campaigning. Saman had all the people that she met.
Amy: Yeah, we had some super intense people. That was the thing is that Brandon and I, we can show you, we sent out e-mail after e-mail and message after message reminding our campaign to be respectful. Brandon and I feel like we did a really good job of ourselves being really, really respectful, but it sometimes just got out of control with people working for us and for other campaigns too.
Q: The number of people that voted for your ticket exceeded the amount of people that voted total last year. Where did that come from aside from the aggressive visual campaign?
Brandon: It came from a lot of hard work and developing a platform that students understood, and could relate to. And after we get elected, people want to see these things happen ’cause they know what these things are. It really came from us doing things that we wanted like you can hold us accountable. We want to be open to you. Just during the three days of voting, a lot of times we’d be like “Hey, did you vote already?” and people would come up and I would already have the person vote but I would talk, to them for an extra five minutes just ’cause I like to.
Amy: We would spend 45 minutes with like one individual talking to them about our goals and stuff like that. We just did whatever it took to even get one vote and also I think something that helped us is that we started out really early on and we contacted people really early on to get their support before they decided to support somebody else and I would say that residence halls was huge. I was the only resident running.
Brandon: So we just tried to gain their support so throughout the three days of actual voting, we weren’t trying to pick up all these votes because we already had like a mass base of voters coming in.
Q: What was the biggest thing you learned?
Brandon: Just how much work needs to and should go into campaigning. It shouldn’t come down to the last two days. That’s what our goal was. We wanted to really understand the student issues and not just wait — to actually work on it the whole month ’cause you have a month to campaign. So that way it’s more competitive and you’re going to get better candidates. That’s what we kept talking about — how we campaign is how we plan on going into office — setting a timeline, setting deadlines, things like that.
Amy: I’d say like taking every single opportunity to talk to people. There were times where we just wanted to have fun and do whatever we wanted, but if we had an opportunity to talk to a group, we took it every single time and there were times where we were like, “Do we really need to do this?” because we were just tired, but we took every single opportunity we could to go talk to people and I think that paid off.
Q: What was the first thing you did after you left campus on Friday?
Amy: We went over to the library to tell my dad that we won ’cause he didn’t come to the announcement.
Brandon: Then we went and sat on a bench and we discussed our week.
Amy: Yeah, we went outside and we sat on a bench and made a to-do list. We went over to Gary Russi’s office trying to make an appointment with him but we couldn’t get into the hallway.