Wabash Student Senate election season is heating up. At this team most years, the candidates would take the state for a debate. But with Cole Bergman ’24 and Luis Rivera ’25 running unopposed, a debate could not take place. Still, the Bergman-Rivera ticket took the opportunity to answer questions during a town hall.
On April 4, 2023 in Salter Hall, students filled the steeples and the candidates explained their vision for the 2023-24 school year.
“I think a lot of the questions that were asked made us think about our campaign overall and our message of bringing the Senate back to the students,” said intended secretary Jake Weber ’25. “Making sure that we are involving all of campus and that the Senate is serving the needs of the students.”
Financial transparency has been the centerpiece of the campaign following questions and confusion over how the Student Senate budget is allocated to clubs, committees, and organizations. National Act, food money for club meetings and recent funding denials have sparked controversy within the Senate. Students have also become frustrated amidst the lack of transparency surrounding why these decisions have been made.
The town hall offered an opportunity for the Bergman-Rivera campaign to ease these frustrations.
“We talked about how we have spoken to Vic Lindsey about creating an accessible budget for all students, not just the senators, and having more transparency with clubs whenever AFC makes a decision,” said Weber. “So really making sure that clubs are aware of what AFC decides so that if they have any issues, we can ensure that there’s a representative who shows up to Senate and that it can be resolved at that time instead of having to be tabled and pushed back later.”
Attendance at the event was minimal as a result of the lack of competition for the election.
“I really can’t blame guys for not showing up,” said Presidential candidate Cole Bergman. “I also think we’ve done a really good job of reaching out to people if they have questions and stuff. We have also visited most of the houses at this point.”
The lack of competition has had an interesting effect on this year’s campaign as most students appear to be disengaged in the election. Last year, a second ticket ran mostly as a joke, but that led to students taking more interest as they waited to see what would be said next. This year’s only competition comes from the “abstain campaign.”
“I’m not super concerned,” said Bergman. “Just talking with guys, I feel like we’ve gotten a lot of vocal support. My only concern would be the complacency thing, like, ‘Oh, they’re the only guys running so I don’t need to worry about voting because they’re just gonna win.’ I don’t think our campaign has ever approached it like that and we have to make sure that we make it heard that if you support us, we would really appreciate it even though it might not make the biggest difference in the world, it would mean a lot to us. So please vote for us.”
A sudden change in location also proved to be detrimental for the event, which was originally planned to take place in Pioneer Chapel.
“We were supposed to be in the chapel and we had advertised that as being in the chapel for a while,” said John Schnerre ’26. “So I think the turnout would have been better if we had had it in the chapel because no one wants to walk down to Salter during the lunch hour, but I was happy that we were able to be flexible with such a short time span.”
The Election Commision doesn’t plan to have any more events for the Bergman-Rivera ticket to voice their ideas about what their presidency would look like. Voting will begin on Monday, April 10 and conclude on Wednesday, April 12. The Commission will be setting up laptops in the Lilly Library to act as voting booths for students to place their vote during that time.