March 29 was student body election day and JMU students voted for student body president, vice president, executive treasurer, student representative to the Board of Visitors, class council and academic senators.
The Breeze was given voting data by Tara Snowden, elections commissioner of the Student Government Association (SGA). A total of 1,288 students cast a ballot this year, a large increase from last year’s number of about 300, Snowden said.
student body president
For student body president, Shawdee Bakhtiari received 612 votes, or 47.52%; candidate Nate Hazen received 466 votes, or 46.81%; 175 students or 23.58% didn’t vote for the position on their ballot and 35 students or, 2.72%, wrote in other candidates.
Bakhtiari, the newly appointed student body president, said she’s excited but “nervous in a good way” about stepping up to the position.
“I’m excited to start and get things going, but I have the nerves of making sure I’m doing a good job and stepping up to what the position is asking of me,” Bakhtiari said.
Bakhtiari said she ran to make sure she’s a “staunch advocate” for the student body, while being a voice to the underrepresented on campus.
“It’s obviously easier said than done,” Bakhtiari said. “It’s something a lot of people assume, but to me, student advocacy is my No. 1 priority, and I want to make sure I’m stepping up to the plate and delivering.”
Bakhtiari said she wanted to step into the role of student body president so she can put her best foot forward for the student body.
In office, Bakhtiari plans to bridge the gap between the greater JMU community and the greater Harrisonburg community.
“We are so fortunate to have the resources the university provides,” Bakhtiari said. “I want to be able to be a resource and platform for not only the student body, but also getting them out into the community to show there’s a world outside of JMU that is just as serving as our amazing community.”
student body vice president
For student body vice president, Carlin McNeil Bumgarner received 958 votes, or 74.38%; 295 students, or 22.9%, did not vote for the position on their ballot and 35 students, or 2.72%, wrote in other candidates.
Bumgarner, vice president-elect, said she feels “wonderful” about her election and is passionate about what she can do with SGA, especially with having a bigger platform to get more things done.
Bumgarner plans to advocate for better mental health resources on campus, as well as more gluten-free and vegan dining options.
Bumgarner ran unopposed for her position and encouraged students to run for office themselves.
“I think a lot of people don’t have the resources to know everything,” Bumgarner said. “The job can be quite intimidating, and I’m still learning myself, whether internal or external.”
For executive treasurer, Brandon Market received 548 votes, or 42.55%; Mahek Shroff received 493 votes, or 38.28%; 236 students, or 18.33%, did not vote for the position on their ballot and 11 students, or 0.85%, wrote in other candidates.
Market, executive treasurer-elect, said he’s excited for the position and put a lot of effort into campaigning for the position.
“I’m really excited to be working as an exec for SGA and to represent the student body at JMU,” Market said. “I have my specific duties as treasurer, so I will be doing my best to uphold all of those. I also want to just work more closely with all of the different organizations [and] student organizations across campus … If they need help with budgeting, or help with getting funding for an event or something, I want to be able to work with them to do that.”
student representative to the Board of Visitors
For student representative to the Board of Visitors (SRBOV), received 1,016 votes or 78.88%, 255 students or 19.8% didn’t vote for the position on their ballot and 17 students or 1.31% wrote in other candidates.
Williams, re-elected as SRBOV, said it’s “good to be on the winning side” and said he believes that candidates shouldn’t take elections for granted.
“I’m glad that the student body trusts me enough to represent them for another year,” Williams said.
Williams said his role as SRBOV is to elevate the voice of the student body in respect to important topics, including tuition and fees. Recently, he’s worked with the interim vice president for administration finance on creating an opportunity that could be a bit more convenient for students to come and learn about tuition, fee proposals and how the budget process works.
“One of the things that I noticed is that I still want to give students an opportunity to be able to understand what’s going on within those [kinds] of decisions,” Williams said.
Williams said he’s also working on ways to elevate student voices and advocate for student needs.
“This year I focused the campaign on moving forward,” Williams said. “Last year was focused on getting back to the basics: the basics of focusing on our community, our connection and our commitment.”
To elaborate on his campaign motto — “Moving Forward” — Williams listed three main points he plans on addressing in his term: innovation, collaboration and dedication.
For innovation, he said, he wants to focus on ways to keep students more informed about Board of Visitors (BoV) meetings and different events while still elevating their voices.
For collaboration, WIlliams said he plans to learn “how to collaborate with different stakeholders across the university to be able to create sustainable and tangible change for students, faculty and staff.” Williams also said a big trait that makes someone in a leadership position successful is when they can collaborate.
“Communication and collaboration go hand in hand,” Williams said. “When there is no communication, there’s no collaboration, and when there’s a lack of collaboration, you miss the opportunity for communication.”
Williams said he’s focusing on how they can partner students better with student leaders and administration, while “working towards sustainable and tangible changes that need to happen on campus.”
Williams said he doesn’t like making promises — because SRBOV is only a one-year role — but that he’s dedicated and committed to the position. He said the JMU community has to take into account his full-time student status of him, as well as working with different people on different schedules at different times. Williams said he doesn’t necessarily make promises but that he’s established commitment.
Williams said he’s dedicated to continuing to serve as an action-driven leader for his peers, prioritizing teamwork and focusing on the compassion that it takes for a leader to understand those they’re serving.
“I’m just a music education major focused on trying to make a better place not only for the students that are here now, but also for the students that will come in the years after I’ve graduated,” Williams said.
The candidates are transitioning into their new roles and will officially be sworn in by the week of April 19.
Contact Kingston Thomas at [email protected] For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.