Student Senate releases unofficial election results, debates Teach Out

Leon Mire, Associate News Editor


Student Senate released its unofficial 2017 spring election results and vigorously debated whether it should officially support a Teach Out in Springfield the Thursday before finals.

The unofficial election results are as follows:

  • Luke Young won the most votes for student body president, over Felicia Wagner and Jonathan Williams.
  • Derek Pierce won more votes than Juan Nevarez for executive vice president.
  • Zachary Cohen ran unopposed for student vice president for student affairs.
  • Rebecca Cash won more votes than Tarvea Durant for student vice president for academic affairs.
  • Zaria Greene, Sam Reiss, Ean Watson and Danny Estradasolis were all confirmed as senators.

Student Body President Catie Witt said she was pleased at the voter turnout, with a total of 1,151 votes cast. She said she had never seen over 1,000 votes before. “Obviously I want it to be 7,000 – I want 100% voter participation – but that’s still really cool,” she said.

She said several of the races were close, with a difference of 67 votes between Young and Wagner and a difference of 36 votes between Cash and Durant.

Senate member Jesse Winter said he thought the close races showed that students were concerned with the issues the candidates spoke about. “It wasn’t just a popularity contest,” he said.

Witt said the official election results will not be announced until the senate’s next meeting Wednesday. Candidates will have 72 hours to file potential grievances.

If any grievances are filed, Witt said, the election commission would decide whether a re-vote was necessary.

The Student Senate was divided on whether it should support a resolution for a statewide Teach Out Thursday, April 27.  Faculty and students will travel via bus to the Capitol Building in Springfield and teach classes in the rotunda to pressure legislators to pass funding for higher education.

The resolution to support the Teach Out was rejected 8-9. Every senate member who spoke in the debate said students who are passionate about the budget impasse are welcome to visit Springfield if they have time. Nearly all senate members who spoke expressed concern that the Teach Out was taking place the Thursday before finals week.

Senate members disagreed on whether the Teach Out would be effective, whether participating would hurt or help Eastern’s image and whether officially supporting it was in the best interest of students.

Witt said she supported the resolution because she has seen the effectiveness of rallies like this in the past. “Even though (students) won’t be talking to legislators because it’ll be a bigger crowd, it still makes a huge impact whenever (legislators) see students that are going, too,” she said, “Especially if their Student Senate is backing them.”

Senate member Patrick Fay said he was afraid Eastern’s brand would be negatively affected, in part because it might send a message to prospective students that Eastern is not a solid investment.

Senate member Zachary Cohen said the Teach Out reminded him of the effects the FundEIU movement had on him as a high school senior last year. “The first thing I did the next day was go the counselor’s office and look at other schools, because personally it just scared me,” he said.

Senate member Danny Estrada said he believed people were worried too much about Eastern’s image, when they should be concerned with making sure Eastern gets resources from the state.

“We can present the brightest, best image that we have,” he said. “But if we don’t have the foundations to build upon that, then that image means nothing.”

Senate member Samuel Cundari said he did not believe the Teach Out would be effective because the tax revenue simply is not there. Cundari also said he doubted the Capitol Police will allow them in the door because of legal restrictions to free expression protests in government buildings.

Witt also presented a report elaborating on new parking regulations. Eastern Police Chief Kent Martin announced in an email Tuesday that underclassman and upperclassman parking would be available to any student for the rest of the spring semester.

The proposals will be reviewed and potentially revised by the President’s Council Thursday. One such proposal is that all upperclassmen and underclassmen would pay $125 for a yearlong parking pass or $75 per semester.

Currently, upperclassmen pay $100 per year or $50 per semester and underclassmen pay $200 per year or $100 per semester.

Another proposal was for a new type of parking permit for non-students who have a membership with the Student Recreation Center. It would eliminate the need for them to purchase a day pass every time they visited.

Three new registered student organizations were discussed at the meeting: the EIU Aesthetics Fitness Club was proposed; the Yarn Society was recognized; and the approval for Spiritual Pluralism and Selfless Service Club was tabled until next week pending revisions to its constitution.

Leon Mire can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

Video of Student Government meeting March 29, 2017: