On March 30, Temple Student Government announced that Empower Owls were elected to represent the student body for the 2023-24 academic year.
During a two-day voting period between March 28 and 29, a total of 1,773 voters were cast with Empower Owls winning 69 percent of votes, said Susan Daniel, TSG’s elections commissioner.
TSG has previously struggled with low voter turnout and routinely received less than 1,000 votes. Last year, only 183 students voted for Temple United’s campaign, which ran uncontested, 2021 also saw the lowest number of executive votes in 18 years after FireOwlsTU dropped out.
Both Empower Owls and Innovate TU made a conscious effort to encourage voter turnout during this year’s election.
“I think we listened,” said Eryal Szyszko, a junior health professions major and the presidential candidate of Innovate TU. “I think we went out and we listened to them, and with their feedback, we made policies and initiatives that I think encouraged them to vote and thought that they could make a difference.”
Empower Owls utilized social media outreach as a major focus for their campaign, said TSG Vice President-elect Lauren Jacob.
“We followed so many different Temple accounts, we were commenting, we were telling our friends to repost on their stories,” said Jacob, a sophomore public health major. “It was definitely an outreach to try to get people that may not be on campus at the same time as we are and may only, you know, they commute and stuff like that.”
TSG President-elect Rohan Khadka believes Empower Owls’ victory means that students are interested in what the university is doing and are passionate about the issues on Main Campus that affect them, he said.
Empower Owls’ victory also marks the first time in two years that there has been more than one campaign on the ballot.
“It’s also the first time that many students have actually seen a vote, you know, a contested vote on campus for their time at Temple,” said Chris Carey, the senior associate dean of students and TSG faculty advisor. “So, hopefully we can just build this habit of students waiting for the TSG elections and participating in the TSG elections.”
Moving forward, Khadka hopes to keep the student body engaged with TSG.
“You create our agenda, you create our mandates, so we can only know what you need if you tell us so come talk to us,” Khadka said.
Jacob also hopes that visible change on campus will help strengthen the connection between TSG and the student body.
“That will actually make a difference in students’, like, day-to-day lives if they can see, like, ‘Oh student government did that,’” Jacob said.
Empower Owls are advocating for several new policies to help improve campus safety, sustainability and communication between TSG and the student body. Revising FLIGHT is one of Jacob’s top priorities, she said.
“I really want to get that going so there will be more students feel more comfortable using FLIGHT because I know I also don’t feel comfortable right now and it’s, like, confusing,” Jacob said.
Jacob will also push for a zero-tolerance policy for single-use plastic in dining halls.
Khadka said he will push to revise Owl Connect, Temple’s Student Activities’ website that provides information about student organizations.
He also said he would create issue-based town halls that would help facilitate communication between students and board members.
TSG’s inauguration will take place on May 1 at the Howard Gittis Student Center, and current TSG President Gianni Quattrocchi and Vice President Akshitha Ag will be delegating their roles to Khadka and Jacob to help them prepare for their new positions.