With petitions and qualification forms due on Feb. 20 for various student government roles, junior Elisabeth Nieshalla and sophomore Enoch Eicher will run unopposed for the roles of 2023-24 student body president and student body vice president.
This comes after a process spanning multiple months as Taylor Student Organization (TSO) garnered interest not only in the roles of Student Body President and Vice President, but Inter-Class Council and Student Senate.
Current student body president and vice president, seniors Kenley Blake and Josue Villalobos, also ran unopposed in spring of 2022.
Steve Austin, Associate Dean of Student Leadership and Director of Student Programs, said they are a bit disappointed to only have one ticket, but also encouraged by the interest that Nieshalla and Eicher have shown.
“We had nine (students) at an interesting meeting in November, which was great,” Austin said. “And we don’t want to talk anyone into it, that would actually be devastating. I think we were sad that good quality candidates didn’t persist, but also at the end of the day we’re okay with that. That’s their choice.”
Austin said it’s rare to have an unopposed ticket, let alone unopposed tickets in back-to-back elections — which hasn’t happened in Austin’s time helping oversee the election process.
The process for applying for election included petitions and meeting certain requirements for holding office. 180 signatures from undergraduate students were needed for the petition to be submitted.
Requirements revolve around making sure the student is fit for holding office — including grade-point average requirements and being in good academic and social standing.
Some of the strategies to encourage students to run includes letting them hear from current office-holders. In fact, the November interest meeting was led by Blake and Villalobos. Austin also said that he attempts to make himself as available as possible to those potentially interested to help answer questions about the roles and better spread the word about the positions.
During a year with multiple candidates, the university would be in the middle of the campaigning process now.
There will still be an election event on Wednesday, which is the day before voting takes place.
In the past, events like debates would be prevalent on the calendar. The candidates also are invited to executive cabinet meetings during this time to begin to experience what it would be like if they win the election.
This year, the process will look more like a transition — as Nieshalla and Eicher are prepared to step into their new roles.
“We’ll probably start meeting weekly,” Austin said. “And I’ll help to answer questions, and talk a little more deliberately than if there were other tickets.”
“Running unopposed provides a unique opportunity to focus all of our campaign efforts on sharing our vision and building trust with the student body,” Nieshalla said. “We want approachability to be a marked attribute of our office, and that starts now as we prepare to lead next school year. Laying a solid foundation of relationship and mutual trust is important for success during our year of service. We want to hear your input and represent the students of Taylor with strength and integrity.”
Nieshalla and Eicher shared some of their goals for the next academic year, and have focused their plans on three areas: student experience, OIP and TSO connections and what they’re calling “Live the Mission Now.”
“Live the Mission Now encapsulates our desire for students to embrace and live out Taylor’s mission statement and our Christian call here and now,” Nieshalla said. “We will help equip students to go out into the local community by creating a central space that highlights the many opportunities to volunteer and serve in Grant County.”
Included in their plans is a mobile app that will help students navigate daily life on campus — with a variety of information that helps keep students aware of what’s happening around them.
The Inter-class Councils were also revealed for each grade.
Next year’s senior officers are as follows:
Emily Johnson (president), Jason Blake (vice president), Gabby Szilagyi (secretary) and Ashley Hall (Treasurer).
Ashley Wynalda (president), Thane Syswerda (vice president), Kayla Malmquist (secretary) and Jenna VanderArk (treasurer).
Michael Hoover (president), Lauren Kersten (vice president), Madeline Rentchler (secretary) and Caleb Belzer (treasurer).