By Cassidy Grom | Echo
On Sunday night, Nicole Arpin, Adam Wright and 30 volunteers counted the seconds until midnight to begin their presidential campaign. But when Monday morning arrived, students were shocked to find Arpin and Wright's posters unchallenged.
For the first time in years (perhaps ever in Taylor's history), only one team is running for the office.
Students were surprised by the lack of competition. "It is so strange. In my class there are excellent, qualified people," said junior Elyse Horb. "Sophomores could run, freshmen could run. They just don't."
On Feb. 8, Director of Student Programs Steve Austin hosted an informational meeting about the roles and campaign process. Eight students attended, but juniors Arpin and Wright were the only pair who completed the next step, collecting endorsement signatures from 10 percent of the student body.
Arpin and Wright felt it was unfair for the student body not to have a choice. According to the pair, not having rivals means it is harder to communicate their campaign platform and to prove that they are capable of the job.
"In one sense I think it's more difficult," Arpin said. "Because when you have competitors you can see strengths and weaknesses in your own platform. You can sharpen it, you can refine it based on what you see."
According to Austin, other students shied away from the title for various reasons. Some respected the Arpin-Wright team and thought they would do a good job. Others, when learning what the position actually entails, decided it was not a good fit.
Junior Hannah Schaefer attended the informational meeting but decided not to run for office. She said campaigning can be an intimidating process and many people don't run unless they are absolutely sold on the idea.
One pair of students liked the idea of campaigning but not taking on the job. Horb and Adam Hursey created a campaign website promising to build a new student union "no matter the cost" and a parking garage for Samuel Morris residents. Although a handful of people have told Horb they support her, she said the campaign is not official.
Without official rival teams, the campaign and voting process will look different this year. On March 1, Arpin and Wright will give a platform presentation instead of engaging in a debate. According to Austin, these circumstances will give students the unique opportunity to hear more from ICC and student senator candidates in lieu of the presidential debate. Additionally, the ballot will be formatted differently than previous years. Students can vote yes or no for Arpin and Wright through the myTAYLOR portal on March 2.
Arpin, who is running for President, has no experience with TSO. However, vice-presidential candidate Wright was treasurer for his ICC sophomore cabinet.
"Being involved in that cabinet gave me a good idea of how, in general, TSO works," Wright said. "Almost everything that happens in this school happens through that organization, and I wasn't aware at that time how much power rests with the students."
Arpin, however, did her homework by interviewing past SBPs. She discovered the job was less about petitioning administration for changes like getting more bowls in the DC (that is Student Senate's job) and more about leading the cabinet of the TSO subgroups like ICC, IFC and intramurals. Additionally, SBP and SBVP are tasked with representing students to administration and vice-versa.
"It's not glamorous work," Austin said. "You are in a lot of meetings."
Wright was not considering the position until Arpin approached him before fall break. The pair initially met through the Honors Guild and travelled to Ireland together during their freshman year. Arpin and Wright are currently PAs on 2nd Breu and Sammy II, respectively, where they work collaboratively on bro/sis events.
Despite almost certain victory, Arpin and Wright will continue to promote their campaign mantras, primarily through social media. A notable point in their platform is their desire for "Constancy in Change." Arpin cited the new university president and student center as major shifts in campus patterns.
"Students will be eating in two different locations so wing conversation at dinner will look different," Arpin said. "So how do we stay 'Taylor' in the middle of that?"