The Rice Thresher
Debbink and Leggett elected in highly
contested presidential contest
February 21, 2003
Wiess College senior Michael Leggett and Wiess
junior Bryan Debbink,
running together, won the Student
Association presidency in a highly
contested election with six
candidates for SA president, a number matched only once in the last
Students cast 861 ballots in the SA presidential
election, part of the
campus-wide General Elections.
Debbink and Leggett received 26.88 percent of the intial
vote. Due to the preferential voting system, 11 rounds of voting had
to be calculated before Debbink and Leggett received the majority
vote necessary to win the SA presidency, although Debbink and
Leggett lead after every round of voting.
Voter turnout is
significantly higher than last year's total of 665 ballots
A total of 1,009 ballots were cast in 2001 and 836 cast in 2000.
Voting was conducted online on the SA Web site.
Debbink said he hopes to increase student involvement on
"I want three years from now the Princeton Review to
say what's hot, and what's not and what's hot is that the students
own the campus," he said.
Leggett said he agreed more
students need to be involved on campus for student opinion on
matters to have an impact.
"I think we need to walk in to
the administration and be able to say, 'This is what we want,
this is why we want it and here, look, 2,000
students want it
too,'" he said.
Debbink and Leggett will be the second
co-presidents in SA history; two years ago Jamie Lisagor and Gavin
Parks were the first.
The other candidates had mixed
opinions about the election results. Sid Richardson College junior
Andy Weber, who finished fourth, said Debbink and Leggett have the
potential to be very effective co-presidents.
and [Leggett] put in the same energy and enthusiasm into next year's
presidency as they put into their campaign, I think we should be
looking forward to a very eventful year and a very proactive
co-presidency," he said.
Hanszen College sophomore
Parisa Azamian, who finished second, said
does not work in this kind of election and that a
would be more effective.
"They could just want a candidate,
but they see seven choices on the ballot so they might vote for
someone that they don't intend to and knock someone else out of the
possibility of becoming the person elcted," she said.
Azamian also said she is not a fan of a co-presidency.
"I think that it kind of puts the other candidates at a
said. "They do get potentially twice as many
voters as compared to people who are just running on their own so I
think maybe co-candidates should not be allowed."
said co-presidents can serve as an effective SA president if they
learn how to work as one.
"It's such a huge job and it's
a matter if you find two people who work
well together, who play
off each other and have the same goals and the same vision, then
it's a benefit," he said. "If not, then it's not a benefit,
of course it's better to have one person because it's a matter of
Will Rice College sophomore Scott
Selinger, running with Martel College junior Hubert Gorniak, who
finished in last place, said he ran for SA
president with the
intention of proving that "nobody gives a shit about the
and he was proven wrong.
"I guess the apathy is not what I
thought it was," he said. "People are
taking an interest. They
actually voted for other people, they watched the debate on RBT,
they read those little blurbs, and they actually cared about the
issues and voted on them."
Other SA positions
other SA executive positions were determined in the election.
Will Rice sophomore Derrick Matthews defeated Sid Richardson
sophomore Narayan Mulukutla for SA internal vice president.
Sid Richardson sophomore Clare Johnson ran uncontested for
SA external vice president.
"This year the SA worked a lot
on improving the committee structure, and one of the main jobs of
the external vice president is to oversee the
standing committee representatives," Johnson said. "Because
we'll be keeping closer in touch with the committees, we'll be
more up to
date about what's going on with parking, calendar
changes and anything else that goes on within the committees."
Wiess junior Phyllis Huang defeated Will Rice sophomores
C.W. McCullagh and Ashley Friggel for SA treasurer in a close
election that required three rounds of voting.
sophomore Brenda Arredondo defeated Martel freshman Noorain Khan for
SA secretary in another close election.
Arredondo said she
plans to get the minutes out to as many people as
sending them to the college listservs and having college
senators read them at cabinet.
Other organizations' top
Students also cast ballots for top positions in a
number of organizations.
Wiess junior Mary-Margaret Miller
beat Hanszen junior Karen Finkelstein for Rice Program Council
"My primary goal is to revise the committees and
strengthen them," Miller said. "Right now we kind of have a system
where committee heads do
everything and theoretically have a
committee, but no one on the committee does anything, so we have a
lot of wasted resources in the terms of manpower, so I'd like to try
to utilize the people that are in the
organization by getting
them into committees."
Baker junior Ethan Varela defeated
Sid Richardson junior Joe Elias for RSVP internal vice-chair.