A group of anxious students crowded outside the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska office and peered in as they waited for the student government election results Wednesday night.
After the Electoral Commission heard five complaints, Roni Miller of the student election group Envision and William Beck of the student election group Progress gathered around a computer in the ASUN office, anxiously waiting waiting for the election results. Outside, their competitors and running mates waited for the moment the two would walk out with the news.
Miller and Beck bumped elbows before Miller exited the office first. She greeted the crowd and announced the results: Envision won every position its candidates ran for.
Miller, ASUN president-elect, ran alongside Drew Harrahill, internal vice president-elect, and Saisha Adhikari, external vice president-elect.
For the first time in four years, two student election groups ran for office. Miller said waiting to learn the results was stressful.
“It took so much longer than when we originally thought we were going to find out,” she said. “I think tensions were high for an extended period of time really.”
Miller decided to call her parents in Nashville first, even though they were already asleep. Adhikari was still in the process of telling her friends and family, while Harrahill said he had texted many of his loved ones.
“I told my mom, and then my grandma and my girlfriend and my roommates,” Harrahill said. “In that order.”
All three said their supporters were confident Envision would win, which encouraged the candidates.
“It helped that everyone was lifting us up when we were feeling at our lowest,” Adhikari said.
Adhikari said her first action in her new position will be to reach out to students.
“So be like, ‘Look, here’s who won, what do you want us to see in this year, what do you want us to accomplish? What do you want us to work on?” she said.
Miller said she, Harrahill and Adhikari will continue the work ethic they demonstrated in their original ASUN positions.
“[We’re] really not changing much other than continuing to work hard, listen to students and try to make it a better campus for everyone,” she said.
Adhikari said Envision can now focus on how to put its ideas into action.
“Now, [we] worry about implementation rather than just idea generation,” she said. “Let’s get to work, let’s get to action.”
Harrahill said now that they have been elected, not having to campaign will free up their time.
“I think the biggest benefit is we now have five to 10 more hours a week where we can, again, work on projects that we care about and things that we love and not worry about campaigning,” he said.
Beck ran as the presidential candidate for Progress with Oscar Canizales as his internal vice presidential candidate and Justin Ho as a write-in external vice presidential candidate. Brent Lucke secured enough votes for a senate seat for the College of Business, and Brock Calamari secured enough votes for a Committee for Fee Allocations position in ASUN for the next term.
Three weeks after Progress’s candidates announced their campaign on Feb. 19, their campaign is over. Now, Beck said he plans to go home, eat some doughnuts and de-stress.
“I know I was stressed out about the whole process,” Beck said. “I’m glad we did it. It’s very much a proud moment for all of us, and it spread awareness of what we’re trying to do on campus and how we’re trying to overthrow the status quo.”
Beck also announced Progress’s plans to run next year, saying the student election group’s name, platform and candidates are still to be decided. However, he said one thing is for sure: Beck, Canizales and Ho are all interested in playing a role.
“Just because we lost the campaign today doesn’t mean that we’re not going to keep fighting for what we believe in,” he said.
Beck said he decided to announce the campaign now, as he expects to send updates on the campaign throughout the next year and be involved in ASUN activities in the future. He said Progress members are also interested in applying for open ASUN positions during the next term, including any extra senate seats or student court positions, to remain an active voice.
“We hope the new administration is open to appointing us to those positions,” Beck said. “That’s something we’re excited for, and we hope that students will stay tuned for next year.”
Ho said another way Progress plans to be involved is by creating a recognized student organization independent of ASUN dedicated to evaluating how well ASUN is performing as a student government. He said Progress ran to hold ASUN accountable, and, as an external organization, they will be able to continue that goal.
Beck also said he is curious to see what the new administration led by Miller will bring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and looks forward to working with them. Canizales agreed, saying he is happy for Envision and expected the results, but is glad Progress ran this year as a trial run before next year’s campaign.
“We wish [Envision] the best of luck and … we hope to be working with them in the future,” Canizales said.
Miller, Harrahill and Adhikari said they are thankful for the support they received from student voters and hope the election is the start of their connection to the student body.
“We hope that students really focus on what student government is, like curious, intrigued about us because we look forward to connecting with students in the future,” Adhikari said.
The next ASUN term begins on April 1. Now that the election is over, the Envision candidates said life goes on, but their first step is to get some sleep.
“I’m gonna sleep,” Harrahill said. “And then I’m gonna get up tomorrow morning and finish my homework.”