More than 100 supporters of Eli Schooley and Jake Unruh’s campaign for student body president and vice president gathered anxiously in Johnny Kaw’s Sports Bar Wednesday evening in anticipation of the final student government election results.
With the room decked out in the duo’s signature blue and green decor, campaign managers, advisory board members and loyal followers of Schooley, senior in political science, and Unruh, junior in finance, nervously waited for the defining moment that they’d been relentlessly pursuing for the past five months.
“It’s really humbling to see so many people who are our friends come out and support us, not only tonight, but over the past four or five months,” Schooley said.
The bustling crowd fell silent as the Wildcat 91.9 radio station suddenly blared through the speakers, declaring a winner had been elected. When Schooley and Unruh’s names were finally announced, shouts of pure joy drowned out the remaining election results as the campaign team hugged, cameras flashed and proud supporters offered congratulations. Schooley and Unruh took 2,352 votes, accounting for 60 percent of the total ballots.
This year’s general election turned out 3,881 voters, compared to last year’s 3,186, a 22 percent increase in student participation.
Current student body president and vice president Nate Spriggs, senior in agriculture economics, and Grant Hill, senior in accounting, also made an appearance to congratulate the pair on their success.
“I think they had a well-rounded platform that drew from not only student life but also academics and just the over-all experience from the university,” Spriggs said. “They did a really good job of selecting platform issues that students and different groups could relate to.”
Spriggs added that his biggest piece of advice for the new campus leaders was to continue K-State’s long tradition of putting the needs of the student body first.
“It’s about always remembering that the reason behind doing what they’re doing is to serve the students,” Spriggs said. “They need to balance the wishes of the students with the progress of the university and make sure that what the administration is doing is in line with what the student body wants.”
When asked if Schooley and Unruh planned to incorporate aspects of the opposing campaign team, Kyle Nuss, senior in architectural engineering, and Ariel Mendiola, junior in sociology, into their future plans, the two conceded that they felt the Nuss-Mendiola administration had brought important issues to the table that they hope to capitalize on during their time in office.
“I think their campaign raised incredible points, and they’re not things that should be forgotten,” Schooley said. “We’ll probably be working with a lot of those candidates whether they be senators or on our cabinet, so I think it’s important to continue to support them.”
Unruh added that he felt one of the strongest aspects of the Nuss-Mendiola campaign was their attempt to reach out to under-represented groups on campus.
“They did a great job of reaching out to voters who maybe haven’t had a voice in the past,” he said. “I think that’s something that Eli and I started realizing throughout the campaign, and we think multicultural students should be more involved. It’s our job now as student government to get them there.”
The pair thanks their supporters for their relentless efforts in making their campaign a success, but maintains that being elected to office is just the first of many challenges to overcome in the upcoming year.
“This was kind of the first step,” Unruh said. “Now that we’re officially in office, we told people that we were going to do some things, and now it’s time to do those.”