No majority leads to an ASW President special run-off election

This week some students caucused, but the voting at Westminster isn’t finished quite yet.

After the ASW polls closed on Wednesday, two candidates were still left to campaign. Nate McDonald, junior, and Ben Pok, first-year, student were the top two candidates in Wednesday’s poll results.

Neither candidate won by a 50 percent plus one majority, so the candidates will enter a run-off election, as mandated to the ASW.Elections handbook.

“In the event that no candidate wins a simple majority vote of fifty (50) percent plus one (1) of all ballots cast for any respective office, a run-off election shall take place between the two candidates that received the highest amount of votes.”

The polls for the run-off election will be open from Thursday at 8 a.m. until Friday at 4:50 p.m. through Canvas.

Students can still access the Panopto version of the ASW Elections debate before voting to make a more informed decision.

Here are the two candidates running for ASW.President in the run-off.

ASW.President candidate Nate McDonald speaks at the ASW.Elections debate on March 15 in the Gore Auditorium. McDonald is running on a three-pronged platform of growth that includes student growth, identity growth, and communication growth. Photos by Rachel Robertson

ASW.President candidate Nate McDonald speaks at the ASW.Elections debate on March 15 in the Gore Auditorium. McDonald is running on a three-pronged platform of growth that includes student growth, identity growth, and communication growth. Photos by Rachel Robertson

Nate McDonald

McDonald is running his campaign around growth—growth of student government and student involvement.

Stats: Junior from Billings, Montana

Campaign slogan: “Vote for growth, vote for Nate McDonald.”

Main platforms addressed: Student growth, identity growth and communication.

What are you focusing on for your platforms for the students while campaigning for ASW.President?

“I’m pretty much running my campaign on growth. My main key objectives—I only chose just three because the school with the big monetary issues and such, you know, I can’t change all that. So the things that I feel like I can change as the president are like student identity with identity growth, student growth and then just communication.”

Break down those three platforms. Student growth?

“Student growth would just be as a student body as a whole. I think that there is a lot of same. There seems like there’s just the same people involved on campus and [the student growth initiative] is just getting students engaged and understand what ASW is and how it affects them, because a lot of students don’t understand how what [ASW passes] affects them.

Identity growth?

“Identity growth is mainly just aimed towards ASW and the rebranding. I think for next year [the rebrand is] just a huge change. People never understood what student government did anyway, especially with all the different branches, so having it now ASW.Events, ASW.Clubs, that will help.”

Communication platform?

“Just communication and that’s kind of a touch for both of [his initiatives]. There is just a lack of communication between like all areas, between especially like the board of trustees and the students, whether it be [the students] giving input on whether we transition from a university or stay a college. It’s like something that I feel we should sort of have a say in maybe, or even seeing why that decision is made.”

What experience have you had to prepare you for this position?

“Me personally, I have a lot of experience on campus. I’ve been RHA president for two years now. I currently sit on the ASW.Clubs board. I previously have sat as the ASW.Events assiociate athletics chair. I’m also a member of GriffinQuest. I play on the men’s soccer team, my third year, so I’m very active on campus. But what that does for me is allows me to really prioritize things, especially with RHA. When I stepped in as president, we were having like on average event sizes of maybe 15 people, very small, low-key except for Mr. Westminster. But our average event size now after two years is now upwards of 100 people. And we actually are returning full executive boards, rather than just two members. The retention rate is growing. We’re actually being able to keep and maintain a budget, we’re becoming more recognizing our region, so growth, right!”

Getting to know Nate beyond the candidate:

“Definitely getting outdoors this year, though, has been different for me since I tore my ACL and meniscus, so I wasn’t able to ski but I was able to fish a little bit. But at least normally with soccer I’m able to get out and release stress a little bit every day. But anything outdoors— camping, fishing, skiing or soccer.”

ASW.President candidate Ben Pok speaks at the ASW.Elections debate in the Gore Auditorium on March 15. Pok is the youngest candidate in the race, and is using his age as part of his platform, in addition to student advocacy and a more diverse campus.

ASW.President candidate Ben Pok speaks at the ASW.Elections debate in the Gore Auditorium on March 15. Pok is the youngest candidate in the race, and is using his age as part of his platform, in addition to student advocacy and a more diverse campus.

Ben Pok

Pok is a 17 year-old first-year student who is running his campaign based on that. He addresses his age head-on and says he is a fighter.

Stats: First-year student from Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Campaign slogan: “This time, it’s time.”

Main platforms addressed: Stronger student advocacy, a more diverse and safer campus and improved student life.

What are your main platforms?

Stronger student advocacy, a more diverse and safer campus and improvement for student life. The thing that separates me is I’m going to be here for the next three years, and it has been empirically proven and spoken to that a one-term president— or in this case a one-year president—is not a sufficient enough time frame to get things done. Costa [current ASW.President] has been working on this email initiative trying to figure out how to reduce the number of emails, and it’s taking over a year. Even some of the simplest of things cannot be done. I’m not a single issue candidate. When you get elected president you are there not to improve student government but life of the student body. I’m an all-encompassing candidate that has the ability to basically dive into everything on campus and see what the issues are and what the problems are.”

What experience have you had to prepare you for the ASW.Presidency?

“In Cambodia, ever since I was thirteen I started working for a non-profit fighting against gender discrimination, corruption, domestic abuse against women and children. That organization also specializes in increasing political involvement of females in the political system because it is a very sexist society. I’ve done the walking behind the lines of protest, even when my life was at risk, having smoke bombs thrown my way and everything. These are the things that I have actually put my life on the line to fight for what is right. Just because I haven’t been here long enough, it doesn’t disqualify me from fighting as relentlessly as anyone else. In high school from 13 to 14, I organized a leadership conference for my high school in Cambodia. I’m only 17. I’m a first-year. I’m two years ahead of my education, so that is what prevents me from getting these stake-heavy internships or on campus organization.”

What’s your strongest asset to bring to the presidency?

“I think that communication is my stronger suit. When I have a task to do and I am sent to do something, it’s really easy for me to do it. Like if I didn’t know you, I could come up to you and if there’s something to talk about, I would get that done immediately. I would get what I need from you and give you immediately what you need from me. And that’s the easiest thing communication and student government right now fails to do that a lot. So as president, one of my platform issues to communication more. So what that means is that first of all when I become president I want to create a cabinet, so there’s going to be like a secretary of diversity and all these different secretaries or directors and every month or two all of us, like the entire cabinet, will table in Shaw and talk to students. ‘What are you concerns? What are you facing right now that you need addressed?’ We haven’t seen any of that at all. The only time we have had student government table is when they needed the student body to vote on the [ASW rebrand].”

And lastly, beyond Ben the candidate…

“I coach debate and that’s my passion—just inspiring people to like go, fight, win. Other than that, I just do a bunch of work, like I’m in Honors, I work in Gore, I’m the marketing associate chair for ASW.Events, also TEDx, so just all of those…that’s my social life.”