By Jon Stroshine
Brianna Leever and Jake Owens had one word to explain how they were able to win Wednesday's student body president elections: dinner.
The pair sat at dinner in Taylor's Dining Commons Wednesday night, encouraging fellow students to vote for them. The pair said making face-to-face connections such as those boosted them to victory.
"I haven't even processed it yet," Student Body President-elect Leever said. "You could just tell me it's snowing outside . . . it hasn't really hit me what exactly this means."
Leever and Owens received 561 votes Wednesday, defeating Melvin Susanto and Lauren Harvey, who received 402 votes.
The winners now begin implementing their slogan of "In. Out. Up." Their first step? Begin hiring an executive cabinet.
That means a lot of interviews, Leever said, and possibly creating a new branch of Taylor Student Organization, if the duo is able to move intramurals under their jurisdiction, as they hope.
"I'm sensing a lot of emails in my future about certain things," Owens said. The student body vice president-elect encouraged students to email their ideas to whoever won the elections.
Susanto said that he has appreciated the process of running for office, despite the loss.
He and Harvey have learned a lot about their gifts, Susanto said, and are now resting and waiting to see what next year holds.
"We're very proud with our team, just the way that we ran the race," Susanto said. "We stuck by who we are and what we know, and we just gave it our best shot."
Tuesday's debates gave the candidates a chance to publicly air their hopes and plans for their prospective positions.
Dressed formally, the four candidates gathered in the Euler atrium to answer questions posed by current TSO staff members.
"I feel like Jake really comes across with the personable things," said freshman Zac Smith Tuesday after the debates. "Even as a Sammy guy, he's always in Wengatz, walking around talking to people . . . Bri really comes across with a confidence that she knows what she wants and she knows what needs to happen."
After the two tickets moved on from last week's primary, both groups worked to communicate their platform to the student body.
Susanto and Harvey met with individuals they already knew in Wengatz during open house hours last Friday. Those individuals introduced them to other members of their respective wings, giving them a chance to meet people and talk about their platform if asked.
The duo ran with the slogan LINK and also put up signs on various students' doors to advertise their campaign, which read "A vote for LINK is a vote for ________," allowing students to fill in the blank with a reason they wanted to see Susanto and Harvey elected.
"Voting for Melvin and I is more than our platform," Harvey said. "It kind of encompasses all who we are as people and our character, as well as our platform and the practical ideas that come with that."
Leever said she and Owens focused on meeting people during their time visiting different dorms, answering questions about their platform if asked.
Owens said that face-to-face recognition was a big goal for them in campaigning.
"What's important is that Bri and I go out there personally and meet with the people . . . and let them know that we recognize there's powerful voice, and we're ready to represent that," Owens said.
Current Student Body President Aaron Milauskas said he has been encouraged by this year's group of candidates and their attitudes in running.
"These two especially have continued to do their homework and to research things well and put some solid ideas together for next year," Milauskas said after the debates Tuesday. "I've been really encouraged . . . by their enthusiasm."
For more photos of Wednesday's debate click HERE