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Passing the Gavel
Atkin wins SGA election unopposed, more than 2,000 students fill out ballots
After three contested elections and three years of working in the Student Government Association (SGA) at Quinnipiac, junior Jonny Atkin earned his new role as president of the student body. The Massachusetts native ran unopposed last week, making him the fourth consecutive SGA president to do so.
Atkin attributed his unopposed election to the implementation of a new position in SGA, the vice president of student experience, which replaced the vice president of programming after SGA and Student Programming Board split this year.
“For this year, it was interesting because we had a new position with two people running for that and other people running for the rest of the positions,” Atkin said. “I think this is just how it ended up where people wanted other positions.”
In this year’s elections, 2,262 students filled out ballots, which is over 100 more ballots than last year, according to Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Director for Campus Life Daniel Brown.
When describing the night of the elections, which is generally a nerve wracking experience, Atkin said there was much more excitement rather than anxiety this year. However, he said he is not a stranger to those feelings.
“I have been through three contested elections in the past and I can tell you that with those, I felt all of the anxiety and nerves at the same time,” Atkin said. “[Last Wednesday], for me, fortunately, was the first time that I didn’t have those feelings and it was more exciting and I am looking forward to what will happen in the future.”
Junior Kenny DiCienzo thinks that Atkin running unopposed exhibits his devotion to the student body.
“Jonny is the only SGA member who wants to devote his skillset to being president. I’m sure that all the other members of SGA felt he was the best fit for the position,” DiCienzo said, “hence why none of them opposed him and why they ran for other positions.”
Atkin said an uncontested election can eliminate some of the suspense for the student body.
“It’s disappointing in some regards and I understand that,” Atkin said. “Because I was unopposed, I feel like the student body is robbed a little bit of that excitement and the anticipation because its either me or nobody.”
The current student body president, Mostafa Elhaggar, who is one of Atkin’s role models and good friends, stated that Atkin could be the best student body president that the Quinnipiac community will ever see.
“He’s just happy to talk to anybody, which I think is one of the more important roles in a position like this…between his personality and his diligence, I think it is going to work out really well,” Elhaggar said.
As part of his presidency, Atkin hopes to improve the student experience on campus, which he admitted is a fairly abstract topic. Some ideas he discussed include the possibility of a coffee shop on the Mount Carmel campus, or even a 21+ community space on York Hill.
“We just want to provide more opportunities for students to get more ingrained in the university,” Atkin said.
This year, SGA has been collecting data from students through surveys about what they are satisfied and dissatisfied with on campus, and Atkin wants to continue that trend.
“From my perspective, when you’re trying to figure out how to best advocate for the students, you really have to go to heavy lengths to gather that information so you can assess what it is that you want to do for the students,” Atkin said.
Another effort that will contribute to the student experience on campus would be the implementation and recognition of club sports. To address this, Atkin and Elhaggar co-wrote a club sports proposal, which is currently pending.
This is not the first time Atkin has worked to improve life for students.
“Throughout freshmen and sophomore year, my cabinet worked diligently with Chartwells to help enhance the student experience,” Atkin said. “One of our major accomplishments with Chartwells was getting the calories printed on all the menus, so that students could have a better understanding of how much they are consuming.”
Atkin and his cabinet also wrote a proposal for $100,000 for new gym equipment during his freshman year, and it was approved.
Another initiative that Atkin headed occurred during his sophomore year after the class of 2016 lost two classmates, Sefakor Mensah and Theresa Fitzpatrick. The sophomore cabinet, along with the girls’ friends, made scrapbooks of pictures and notes and sent them to the families of the girls. They also organized a commemorative event to take place that winter, which had a great turn out, according to Atkin.
“It was an event that really showed how strong the community at Quinnipiac is,” Atkin said.
Daniel Brown says Atkin is ready for the position of SGA president.
“I think very highly of [Atkin]. I think he is very eager and ready to be in this position,” Brown said. “He has been very intentional this past year about wanting to learn what he needs to know so that he can be successful in the position.”
SGA President Mostafa Elhaggar offered some advice to Atkin.
“You have to remember to have fun with it because it is definitely an honor and a privilege and you need to appreciate that you’re in this position,” Elhaggar said. “If you work too hard, you are going to lose the value in it, which is the honor that you are representing over 6,000 students so stay confident and stay on the ball.”
Atkin knows he will try his hardest to be receptive to all students and keep everyone satisfied.
“At the end of the day, I am going to do my absolute best to ensure that I satisfy the needs of all students,” he said. “And because I am kind of the one that they were given, I’m going to be cognizant of that fact and do my best to make sure that I’m open to everyone at all times.”