The University student body has elected current Student Affairs Committee (SAC) Chair Nicole Updegrove ’14 as Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) president and current Finance and Facilities Committee (FIFAC) Chair Andrew Trexler ’14 as WSA vice president the 2013-2014 academic year. Updegrove ran against Chair of the Organizational and External Affairs Committee (OEAC) and current WSA Vice President Mari Jarris ’14 and Keith Conway ’16. Trexler ran against Vice Chair of the OEAC Chloe Murtagh ’15. Voting opened on Monday, April 22 and closed at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 26.
Updegrove won by a margin of 159 votes, receiving 592 votes while Jarris received 433. Conway came in third place with 128 votes. For the vice presidential race, Trexler received 658 votes, while Murtagh received 404.
Updegrove said that she was ecstatic about the outcome of the election.
“Either way I would have been happy with how my life turned out,” she said. “In one [scenario], the student body trusts me to be president, and I can accomplish, hopefully, a lot of things that I’m interested in seeing happen. In the other [scenario], I have a lot of free time to do other things, including pursue some of the same projects just within less of an institutional framework. But I was thrilled by the results…I’m glad it paid off.”
Updegrove said that she was looking forward to talking with student group leaders as one of her first projects upon assuming the role of WSA president.
“[I met with student group leaders] a lot throughout the year while we were campaigning,” Updegrove said. “But I want to hear from as many people as possible, so that over the summer when we really start our work on shaping [the Assembly] and some of our priorities for the year, [we are] making sure that voices from the student body are reflected in that. I know there are a lot of people who are very interested in seeing changes.”
Trexler said that his upcoming projects will largely build on the work he is already doing as FIFAC
Chair, but that he is particularly excited to increase his canvassing efforts in the fall.
Updegrove’s win makes her the first woman to serve as WSA president since the 2004-2005 academic year. According to Trexler, the Executive Committee, composed of eight Assembly members, has tended to be male dominated in the past, as has the WSA presidency. Even though the executive committee was more evenly divided along gender lines this year, both Updegrove and Trexler agreed that it is important for a woman to assume the role of president.
“[Gender was] definitely something that Andrew and I talked about when we were deciding who should be in which position,” Updegrove said. “I think it’s great, personally, to have leaders who aren’t male for other members of the Assembly…and I’m just honored to go to a school where this is okay and really celebrated.”
Trexler echoed Updegrove’s sentiment.
“As silly as it does sound, symbolism does matter to a certain extent,” he said. “It’s definitely concerning that, to a certain degree, the Student Assembly has been led by a male president for so long—it’s such an unbroken chain. So it did make a difference to us, [and] we thought that this would be better for both the WSA and the student body.”
The pair emphasized a desire to communicate with students, encouraging students to attend the WSA’s weekly Sunday night meetings.
“If you have thoughts, please talk to us,” Updegrove said. “We would love to hear from you, whatever you’re working on or whatever you’re interested in. We’ll try to reach out to you, but please reach out to us if you have thoughts.”