Ray Smeriglio and his ticket, TU Believe, defeated competing ticket Renew TU to be elected student body president by more than 200 votes in an election last week that continued the trend of diminishing voter turnout.
Smeriglio served as director of communications in the most recent Student Government administration, headed by Student Body President Darin Bartholomew. Smeriglio is also well-known for his appearances as a hype man at basketball and football games.
Joined on his ticket were Julia Crusor and Blair Alston, who will serve as vice presidents. Renew TU was headed by candidate for student body president Ifeoma Ezeugwu and vice presidential candidates Meghan Guerrera and Rachel Applewhite.
The results of the vote, which was open to all students online through Owl Connect April 8-9, were announced to a small gathering of people from TSG and Student Activities at the TSG office in the Student Center on April 10.
TU Believe gathered 56 percent of the vote with a total of 961 votes against the 755 earned by Renew TU.
“I had a small crying fit,” Crusor said of the victory. “This is something we really wanted for a long time.”
Applewhite said the loss was disappointing because her team worked hard to win.
“I hope [TU Believe] will use some of our ideas going forward,” Applewhite said. “I would love to help out on TSG where I’m needed.”
The tickets were officially announced at the weekly TSG General Assembly meeting on March 24. Debates between the two tickets were held on March 31 and April 7.
TU Believe campaigned on expanding LGBTQ safe-zone training programs and the range of TUr Door services, as well as improving dining halls and building security. Renew TU’s platform centered on increasing lines of communication about services already offered by the university and the creation of a Diversity Week.
A total of 1,716 votes were cast, according to a tally by TSG election commissioners. It was lower than the total from last year’s election, which counted 2,075 votes, which in turn was lower than the previous year’s 2,647 votes.
TSG Election Commissioner Dylan Morpurgo said the drop in voter turnout meant TSG didn’t communicate as effectively as it could have to students.
“Voter turnout can always be higher,” Morpurgo said. “Because campus is so busy and diverse, people are not always connected to what’s going on.”
Outgoing president Darin Bartholomew cited the weather as a factor in low voter turnout, saying the groups were not able to have heavy campaigning due to the large number of rainy days in late March and early April.
Morpurgo said the number of votes cast was not an all-time low turnout for TSG elections.
In other ways, Morpurgo said the election was an improvement. “Both teams made a really concerted effort to run a clean campaign,” he said. “The debates were very cordial. That wasn’t always the case in the past.”
Crusor said TU Believe has “big shoes to fill,” as they prepare to lead the student body in the fall.
TSG holds weekly meetings that bring in university administrators to hear from students, and leaders frequently meet with top administrators to relay thoughts and concerns from the student body. The student body president also holds a non-voting seat on the Board of Trustees.
Smeriglio will assume office at the inauguration on May 5 at the general assembly meeting.
Joseph Gilbride and John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.