This year’s race is more competitive than the last few years as accessibility, advocacy and school spirit take center stage.
Three pairs of candidates for Student Body President and Vice President presented their platforms to a large crowd in Lower Beamer on Wednesday night, in advance of the elections on Thursday, March 23. The tickets announced their candidacy on Instagram last week, and their flyers and campaign materials have appeared around campus over the last few days.
The hot topic at Wednesday’s speech night, which was livestreamed on Instagram and attended by a crowd of students and a few administrators, including President Philip Ryken, was the relationship between Student Government and the larger campus community. All three tickets mentioned their desire to close the “separation” between SG and the student body and each presented a few proposals to do so, including regular social media updates on SG’s activities and town halls with student organizations.
From a line of bar stools set up across from Sam’s Café, each set of candidates passed a microphone to share a short introduction and summary of their platform, and then answered questions from the audience. The event was moderated by current Student Body Vice President Kendra Patty. The questions addressed candidates’ past SG achievements, leadership weaknesses, the characteristics they will look for in their SG cabinet and plans for the cabinet’s spiritual formation.
Juniors Dolan Bair and Adam Parcel, running for president and vice president, respectively, focused their campaign on fostering collaboration across student groups, according to their Instagram (@dolan_adam4sg). Their slogan—“Christian, Connection, Collaboration”—reflects an emphasis on biblically-based SG initiatives and dialogue with student groups.
“There’s a lot of disconnect from Student Government,” Bair, who currently serves as Executive Vice President (EVP) of Sustainability on the 2022-23 cabinet, told the Record. “We want to meet more with leaders and give them a voice in Student Government in a way that they haven’t had before.”
Bair, a political science major, and Parcel, an economics major, have relied on door-to-door connections in promoting their campaign, including delivering campaign flyers to every student’s door.
Junior Liliana Beauchemin, who studies business/economics and communication, is running for president with sophomore international relations major Jackson Connor as her vice president. Their slogan, announced on their campaign Instagram account, @votelilyandjackson, is “Think FAST,” which stands for “fun, access, service and transparency.”
Beauchemin is one of the current junior co-class presidents, and Connor said that Beauchemin’s history with Student Government and his outside perspective will help them make decisions for the student body.
“Together, we have that creativity and that way to work together well in moving Student Government forward into the next stage,” said Connor. During the Q&A, Connor said that both he and Beauchemin are strong interpersonal communicators, and want to use that to hear more about student needs by holding open office hours in Lower Beamer.
Beauchemin, a co-captain of the women’s club lacrosse team, is a regular attendee of football and basketball games and has been involved with reviving Ryken’s Rowdies, an informal school spirit group, this year.
“Bringing back school spirit is something I’m really passionate about, no matter what that looks like,” Beauchemin said.
Junior political science major Katie Molloy centered her presidential candidacy on accessibility, belonging and care (@votekatieandjulia). Her vice president Julia Morrow, a junior studying biblical and theological studies and philosophy, said she shares Molloy’s desire to advocate for the needs of the student community.
“I am always drawn to serving in positions that bring my passion for justice and advocacy together with my love for Christ,” said Morrow.
Molloy and Morrow have each held a variety of leadership roles, serving on the cabinet for the annual Where Are The Women conference, in local churches and in student government. Both have also been involved in nonprofit work outside of Wheaton, with shared interests in issues including women’s ordination, gender equity and homelessness. Desire to bring their advocacy experience to the needs of Wheaton students is the backbone of their campaign.
“ wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t love Wheaton and the people here,” said Morrow. “We intend to advocate for and encourage the student body with the utmost emphasis on empathy and justice.”
Molloy mentioned on Wednesday night that there are no candidates for the EVP of Community Diversity, a role which she said usually is the driver of diversity initiatives in SG. Molloy and Morrow said that, if elected, they would appoint someone to the role who shared their interest in racial and gender equity. They also said they are determined to encourage their entire SG cabinet to prioritize student concerns about diversity on campus.
Despite some open EVP and Class Co-President races, this year’s SG race is more competitive than the last three years, which saw a string of low turnout and unopposed races. Candidates must be sophomores or juniors to run, and be in good academic standing.
Due to the pandemic, the 2020 election was virtual, which led to a lower voter turnout than in previous years. There were no candidates for junior class president, which left the new president to nominate a candidate who was then approved by the board in the fall. In 2021, Hayden Sledge ‘22 and Mason Laney ‘24 won an uncontested race. This year’s president, senior Stephen Stapleton, and vice president, Kendra Patty, also ran and won unopposed.
On Thursday, students will receive an email link to a ranked-choice ballot for their 2023-24 presidential representatives, and for the Executive Vice Presidents and Class Co-Presidents, which make up the rest of Student Government. There are, once again, no candidates for the junior class presidential race.
The ranked-choice system was introduced to Wheaton’s student government voting process by a measure passed in the 2017-18 academic year. Students will rank candidates for each race in order of preference, and then the least preferred candidates will be eliminated and their votes redistributed until a clear majority emerges. The winners of all the races will be announced on Friday via email.