Washburn students turned out in droves for the recent Washburn Student Government Association election.
Last year 773 students voted in the election. This year that number ballooned to 1,388 students, about 20 percent of the total student population at Washburn.
Whitney Philippi, WSGA president, noticed lots of new voter turnout coming from various populations at Washburn, and she also noticed the increased use of technology in campaigning.
“The use of technology this year was a big key,” said Philippi. “It really helped get the names of candidates out there. And with Garrett [Love] being an athlete, I think that helped the elections to reach a new population of students.”
Philippi also credited communications and advertising for the increased numbers.
As students filled the basement of the Memorial Union to witness the announcement of the new WSGA president and vice president, the excitement was palpable. Blake Bryant, WSGA special events director, said he wasn’t all that surprised.
“People were actually excited this year,” said Bryant. “There was a lot of diversity in the candidates and people actually felt like they could get behind who they were voting for.”
The most recent presidential election campaign matchup between Barack Obama and John McCain may have also played a factor in this year’s turnout, reminding people of the power they hold in their vote. For Bryant, this was another reason why so many people took part in the WSGA elections.
President-elect Garrett Love was astounded at the outcome of the voter turnout.
“Word of mouth is a really powerful tool,” said Love about one of his campaign strategies. “And it made a big impact and helped us out a lot in this election.”
Vice president-elect Caley Onek was also thrilled about the number of people who came out to vote in this election.
“It’s just amazing how many voted this year,” said Onek. “I can’t believe it. It’s so great that we’re getting students more involved.”
Ultimately, the dramatic increase of 615 votes this year was a big stepping stone for WSGA. Angel Romero, WSGA chief of staff, thinks the numbers could continue to rise in the future.
“We had two really strong candidate teams and a big diversity in types of people voting,” said Romero. “So I definitely think it’s possible we could get even more to vote next year. Overall, I think it’s just great for the university.”