GUSA Senate election sees success of progressive candidates

September 20, 2020

Progressive candidates largely dominated in this year’s GUSA Senate elections, according to official results released by the Election Commission on Sept. 20.

The election came amid public internal criticisms of GUSA, including its failure to represent all identities on campus and the treatment of women of color in the Senate. This came to a head at a Sept. 17 emergency Senate meeting where the Senate voted to reopen the petition period to allow more candidates to get on the ballot before the election began, including those who had been motivated by these criticisms. Four sitting senators, Zahra Wakilzada (SFS ’23), Sofia Negrete-Retamales (SFS ’23), Eric Bazail-Eimil (SFS ’23), and Zach Volpe (SFS ’23) left the race in the days before and after the meeting. 

This year’s elections saw an overall turnout rate of 26 percent, up from last fall’s rate of 19 percent. Fall elections are usually just for incoming freshmen and at-large seats, voted on by sophomores, juniors, and seniors, but since last spring’s elections were canceled due to COVID-19, the entire Senate was up for election this fall. The freshman class had the highest turnout rate, at 40 percent, while the senior class came in at just over 12 percent. 

Nineteen members of the Progressive Coalition, a group of 27 candidates who came together to advocate for increased diversity in the Senate, won their races. Those include Will Leonard (COL ’23), Yaritza Aguilar (COL ’22), and Nicole Sanchez (SFS ’22) for at-large seats, Natalie Rodriguez La Fleur (’21), Leo Teixeira (COL ’21), Lily McGrail (COL ’21) Winston Ardoin (SFS ’21), Samantha Moreland (COL ’21), and Ivan Jimenez (COL ’21) for the class of 2021, Melanie Cruz Morales (COL ’22) and Jordan Brown (COL ’22) for the class of 2022, Leo Rassieur (COL ’23), Anndy Serrano (COL ’23), Makayla Jeffries (COL ’23), Erique Perez (COL ’23), and Kariel Bennett (COL ’23) for the class of 2023, and Adora Adeyemi (MSB ’24), Bella Fassett (SFS ’24), and Deborah Wey (SFS ’24) for the class of 2024. 

Also joining the next Senate are David Park (MSB ’23) for at large, Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22), Henry Dai (SFS ’22), Olivia Kleier (SFS ’22), and Rowlie Flores (COL ’22) for the class of 2022, Katie Wang (SFS ’23) for the class of 2023, and Camber Vincent (SFS ’24), Dominic Gordon (SFS ’24), Lara Sophia Santana (SFS ’24) and Nirvana Khan (SFS ’24) for the class of 2024. 

Teixeira, McGrail, Ardoin, Moreland, Rassieur, Daniella Sanchez, Kleier, and Flores are all sitting senators. Current senators who lost include Joey Yacavone (SFS ’22) and Chris Ziac (COL ’22), the current vice-speaker. 

Eight of the winning candidates petitioned to get on the ballot thanks to the extension. 

The new senators will be sworn in at the next Senate meeting on Sept. 27. 

This article will continue to be updated with the schools of winning candidates. 

Annemarie Cuccia
Annemarie is an avid Voice reader and former editor-in-chief. She hopes she left the magazine better than she found it.

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[…] Coalition, a cohort of GUSA and non-GUSA members focused on student activism, successfully won their seats in the senate. The group currently includes about 30 to 40 students, 27 of whom ran for […]