On Thursday, May 2, an all-campus email announced that Rachel Liddell ’15 was elected President of the Student Government Association (SGA) for the 2013-2014 academic year.
The election yielded a record turnout with a total of 1,484 votes. Liddell received 772 votes, which amounted to 52.02 percent of votes and a clear majority. Liddell defeated Killian Naylor ’14.5, who received 367 votes and Nathan LaBarba ’14, who received 345 votes. Ranked ballot calculations were not deemed necessary in the tally process.
“The campaign was a huge amount of effort and time, but the real work starts now,” said Liddell. “I’m just shocked by the voter turnout, blown away by the distribution of the vote and very proud.”
Current SGA Chief of Staff Anna Esten ’13 noted the impressive voter turnout as well. “The turnout was the highest we have on record, and we think it was a combination of the fact that there were three high-profile presidential candidates running, as well as increased interest in the SGA in general this year.”
A new provision of SGA election guidelines, enacted this fall, is thought to have contributed to the record voter turnout. The new rule allowed candidates to campaign during the voting period, whereas campaigning in previous years ended when ballots went live online.
Liddell’s SGA experience stems from her role as Cook Commons Senator during the 2012-2013 academic year, as well as serving alongside students, faculty and staff as a member of the College’s budgetary advisory committee.
“Sometimes it’s hard for average students to have their voice heard, and I’m excited to be someone who can make my voice heard, and also someone who is willing to lend my voice to others,” said Liddell.
Liddell made her decision to run for SGA President in March after repeated conversations with incoming Chief of Staff Danny Zhang ’15.
“Finding Danny [marked the shift from] me having an ambition that I wanted to enact by myself into me having a team, and me having somebody who was willing to support me in a very real way,” said Liddell.
Zhang feels that the biggest factor in Liddell’s success was their campaign efforts early on in the election process.
“I think we had a really strong ground game going for us,” said Zhang. “It was overall a really dynamic campaign with a lot of moving pieces, including social media, chalking, posters and just talking to people.
“From what I’ve seen, Rachel has an extremely driven personality,” Zhang said. “She’s very dedicated to what she does, and if she wants something, she’ll do what it takes to get it done.”
As advertised during her campaign, Liddell’s primary platform issue is to work with administrators to grant students academic credit for summer internships, arguing that the winter term internship policy, which grants general academic credit, should extend to summer opportunities as well.
“Many summer internships are unpaid, and that’s disturbing,” said Liddell. “On the one hand, it’s negative to buy into that, and on the other hand, buying into it is inevitable, and we need to have those kinds of experiential learning moments in order to be qualified in the job market when we graduate.”
Liddell’s platform also includes reforming distribution requirements, addressing the role of social houses on campus, revamping course evaluations and reconsidering the efficacy of the Honor Code.
“I obviously am interested in making a difference here at Middlebury,” said Liddell. “I am interested in impacting the issues that I am passionate about, and I think that a lot of students are passionate about these same issues.”
In addition to the SGA presidential elections, elections took place for Student Co-Chair of the Community Council and SGA senators.
Luke Carroll Brown ’13.5 will serve as Community Council Co-Chair. Caroline Zitin ’14 was elected unopposed as Senior Senator, Nalia Jahan ’15 will serve as Junior Senator for the full year while Rana Abdelhamid ’15 will serve during the fall semester. Hasher Nisar ’16 and Conor Simons ’16 will serve as Sophomore Senators. Evan Allis ’15.5 and Joseph Leavenworth Bakali ’15.5 were elected Feb Senators.
Commons Senators were elected as well. Alex Potter ’16.5 will represent Atwater Commons, Josh Beerlowitz ’16 will serve as Brainerd Senator, Taylor Custer ’15 will be Ross Commons’ Senator and Lisa Han ‘16 will serve as Wonnacott Senator.