USG, trustee winners prepare for office

By Gus Bode

Rather than relief, Megan Pulliam said she felt the weight of responsibility when election results were announced early Thursday.

“I was like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of work ahead of me now,” she said.

When the results of the student elections were released shortly after midnight, Pulliam emerged as the new student representative for the SIU Board of Trustees. Demetrous White, who represented the Students United Party, was announced as the new president of Undergraduate Student Government.

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For USG president, 1,200 students voted. In the student trustee race, 1,218 cast votes.

Pulliam defeated Black Affairs Council Coordinator Kevin Winstead and incumbent student trustee Christine Guerra with 470 votes. Winstead and Guerra received 401 and 347 votes, respectively.

Pulliam said she was surprised by the election results.

“I honestly thought Kevin was going to win,” she said. “I had kind of prepared myself for losing so that if I did lose it would be much easier.”

Pulliam attributed much of her success to extensive campaigning. She said she went door to door speaking with students at Brush Towers, Thompson Point and Lewis Park.

“I really tried to talk to people,” she said. “Even when I was just passing out fliers, I tried to at least have a small discussion with every person rather than just handing them a flier and saying ‘Vote Pulliam.'”

Pulliam said her first plan of action was to meet with administrators and a few student organizations to find out more about campus issues. She said she planned to work with Fight Club, an offshoot group of USG, to facilitate communication between students and the board.

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If the election results are ratified at USG’s April 18 meeting, Pulliam will replace Guerra as student trustee July 1.

White won the USG presidential election with 507 votes, more than 100 votes away from the closest competitor. Fight Club candidate Matt Picchietti received 395 votes and REAL Party representative Daniel Bachert received 298 votes. A single write-in ballot was cast for Andy Fruth.

White said he immediately began working for students by attending Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting and speaking with board members about proposed tuition and fee increases. The board passed $282 in fee increases and a $270 increase in tuition at the meeting.

“We have to find a way to communicate with the board and the administration about this issue of affordability,” he said.

White said leaving his spot as a USG senator to become the president helps him address the issues students care about. More resources are available to the president than to senators, he said.

“I’m just excited now, you know,” he said. “I’m taking it easy, taking it in one step at a time.”

White is set to take office May 2.

Bachert said he was disappointed with the small number of students who voted in the elections. He said many students are not even aware USG exists.

“That’s not saying much when you have 7 to 8 percent of the undergraduate student body voting in campus-wide elections,” he said. “It turned into a popularity contest, and that’s not what it’s supposed to be. That’s homecoming.”

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