Candidates run unopposed for first time in over five years
The University of New Hampshire is holding Student Body Elections this Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb 18 to 19, but there seems to be a lack of competition for the presidential title. In fact, there is only one pair of candidates running for student body president and vice president.
Last year the campaign had a total of five pairs running for president and vice president position. In the past four years UNH has ranged from two to five pairs running, but this is this first time in over five years only one pair is running.
"I think that interest fluctuates based off the student body and what is going on in the university [and] state," current-UNH Vice President William McKernan said. "For example, I would attribute last year's anomaly to the restoration of funding effort that the University System performed to the state. Students wanted to take part in that effort and one way a few students saw was through the student body elections."
Current Student Body President Bryan Merrill does believe that the earlier deadline in candidacy may have influenced the low turnout in candidates. His main reasoning was because the deadline was during the busiest time of the year, final exam week and the start of this semester.
The pair running for student body president and vice president has many goals they aspire to accomplish. Joseph Sweeney and Garrett McGlory are both UNH sophomores looking to make a difference.
The presidential candidate, Joseph Sweeney, is currently serving as a New Hampshire State Representative, and has been in that post since December of 2012. In addition to his role in state government, Sweeney is on the executive board of five different student organizations (Student Senate, Phi Mu Delta, SCAN-TV, Hunter Hall Council, and UNH Students for Innis). Sweeney is also the vice president of membership of his fraternity.
The vice president candidate, Garrett McGlory, serves as the vice president of finance for Pi Kappa Alpha. He has also served as a non-resident student senator for the past year.
"Through the Office of the Student Body President, Garrett and I will represent the whole of the student body to the administration," Sweeney said. "We want the school to make sure our University sticks to the master plan, which includes an updated Hamilton Smith and a new arts complex to replace the aging Paul Creative Arts Center."
Sweeney believe that the reason his campaign has no competition is because there is a lack of involvement among many people, and those who are involved and qualified for the responsibilities are typically too busy to handle the year round work.
"I have learned out of necessity how to manage my time effectively and will use those skills to my advantage," Sweeney said.
Some people believe that the earlier deadline could have resulted in fewer candidates but Sweeney stresses that being student body president is not a decision to be made lightly or in a rushed manner. The deadline was in fact extended, but the only candidates remained being Joseph Sweeney for president, Garrett McGlory for vice president, and Merrill for student body trustee.
While Merrill and McKernan had a busy and exciting year being student body president and vice president, they are not running for re-election. McKernan said his favorite part of the job was being an advocate for students and being able to speak with administration, students, alumni and faculty.
"This experience has opened my eyes," McKernan said. "I feel a slight sense of ownership over everything that goes on around UNH and I am so grateful that the students have given me the opportunity to realize how great a community exists on this campus."
McKernan's only regret is that he did not have enough time in a day and the year. He believes students would have benefitted from more face-to-face time with Merrill and himself.
Merrill has absolutely no regrets. "It is an honor to serve, and I'm going to give it 110 percent until I'm done in April," Merrill said. "Then I'm going to give it 110 percent as trustee on the USNH Board."
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