Whatever happens, the Student Association is great and so are all of you.
Last week, the Thresher deemed my Facebook post announcing my decision to write-in to the Student Association presidential election “breaking news.” I have never been breaking news before and I highly doubt I will be again. That being said, I wanted to set the record straight before the results are released.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Hannah Todd and I am a Wiess College junior. I love mornings, vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles, bad jokes and each and every member of the special community that is Rice University. I smile more every day as I realize how lucky I am to be here, learning, living, and growing among quirky, kind, thoughtful, hilarious and simply wonderful people.
When I chose to write in to the Student Association presidential election last Monday, it was not a decision I took lightly. Justin Onwenu, Jake Nyquist and I served as college senators together and I have the utmost respect for the two of them. I never intended my write-in candidacy to be a comment on their character as individuals or either of their abilities to be the next SA president. I also love the SA, having served as a New Student Representative, senator and external vice president over the last three years. Instead, I joined the race because of how Jake and Justin were treating one another, and how their supporters were treating each other. I felt the election did not reflect the Rice community I know and love, and thought perhaps a third party could diminish some of the personal conflict and attacks in order for students to focus on what matters when selecting the next SA president: platform, experience and character. I did not think I would be a better president than Justin or Jake, but rather a different president. Each of us brings a distinct set of experiences, passions and ideas to the role and I sincerely believed the SA would be in good hands no matter what.
After I announced I was running, I believe you could deem what happened next as going viral. It was certainly exhilarating and humbling to receive such an outpouring of support from people I knew and others I didn’t know. However, it was mostly upsetting for me. I saw that I had hurt Jake and Justin by blindsiding them with my entrance into the race. I also wondered what was more important, my friendships with them or my desire to “fix” a hostile race by trying my best to insert positivity and shift the focus back onto simply what each candidate would bring to the job.
I also was saddened to hear talk of the election, a student government election mind you, being “rigged” by the SA executive team. I hope the SA executive team likes me but I know for a fact we all like rules and order more. When SA President Griffin Thomas chose to notify University Court of the unconstitutional exclusion of part-time students from voting and Maurice Frediere’s name from the ballot, his act to ensure a fair election was misconstrued in the context of my write-in candidacy. In other words, this election just seemed increasingly ridiculous.
Meanwhile, in Senate on Monday alone, the SA discussed the Second Vision for the Second Century with Provost Marie Lynn Miranda, proposed a plan for thoughtful and deliberate conversations about political action in the future, and learned of a proposal to discover how to best support DACA students on our campus. As this crazy election stretched on, the SA exemplified the huge steps it has taken in my time at Rice and the reasons at the end of the day that I am proud of my three years of work on its behalf.
Regardless of the election outcome, I have found a voice and a place not only at Rice but also in the SA. I hope you all can find your own in the SA as well. You’ll find the way that works best for you, be it coming to a Senate meeting, applying for a SA committee, or telling your Senator about an idea for a project. The SA’s job is to represent and support you. Whatever happens, that is not going to change.