Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

SGA presidential elections are all online


The Coronavirus outbreak has pushed 15 states to postpone their presidential primaries. The global pandemic is also upending the way the Student Government Association (SGA) runs elections. 
Senior Justin Verlinden, the chairman of the Augustana Election Committee, says the president and vice-president tickets are currently campaigning before the mid-April election. 
There are two bids for next year’s SGA top executive positions: Kaitlyn Watkins and Peyton Couch, both juniors, while sophomores Alondra Ochoa and Lauren Palmer represent the second ticket bid. 
Each ticket is having to campaign entirely online after Augustana cancelled in-person classes for the remainder of the term. 
“The candidates can create social media accounts to reach out to students,” Verlinden said. “We are also working on the ability for them to use school-wide emails to campaign.” 
The email announcing the candidates also carries a working link to a campus-wide survey. The survey is open until the end of the day on Friday, April 3. Students can send in questions they may have to the committee, who will then send the questions to the candidates. 
“It’s been a little challenging to convert everything we planned over to, like, an online version,” Couch said. “But so far we’ve created a Facebook page. It’s called WatkinsCouch2020. We’ve also made a Twitter account: we pretty much make posts on there and try to reach as many people as possible.” 
Ochoa and Palmer are having to do the same thing, as most students use social media. 
“It’s not what we were wishing to do,” Ochoa said. Palmer added, “definitely not what we planned to do.” 
Ochoa says the Election Committee has been very responsive and they’re appreciative of that. Ochoa and Palmer are using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach out to the student body. 
“We do have to get everything approved by the committee, so there is a wait during that,” Ochoa said. “But trying to engage the student body is our number one goal right now. We tried to send out a mass email because we understand not everyone has a social media account.” 
The email they tried to send could only be sent within their sophomore class, but as Verlinden pointed out, the committee is working to allow the candidates to use every online measure possible. 
Watkins and Couch hosted a Google Hangout this past week in hopes of reaching additional students.
“We’re having one tonight [March 31] that will be open to the whole campus,” Watkins said. “If we gauge a lot of participation, we will possibly, in the coming weeks, have more of them.”
Watkins and Couch are also trying to establish Google Hangouts with leaders in the various campus groups. 
Ochoa and Palmer spoke about similar meetings. They planned to meet groups in person, but because social distancing is in place, online measures are having to be made. 
“One of our big things is to make sure we’re reaching everyone and advocating for everyone,” Ochoa said. Palmer spoke about having issues with Instagram blocking their own posts and how social media is valuable but also not their first choice of communication. 
“It’s murky waters for everybody,” Palmer said. “Hopefully we can do the best with what we have. Get our message across and talk to as many students as possible.”
Verlinden says the voting process will occur on April 15 and 16. The election committee will send out links with special codes so each student can participate. The answers to this week’s ongoing survey will be released next week to the student body. 
The Election Committee includes Jacob Sanchez, Vanessa Silva, Olivia Smith, Urbano Solis, Ryan Sorenson and Justin Verlinden. 
The Observer will continue to cover the 2020 SGA presidential election. Our next piece will include candidate responses to what they want to achieve if in office and why they think they’re qualified for the position.
Featured photo: Candidates provided photos of their election tickets.

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SGA presidential elections are all online