Shepard, Azad win student body elections

Joseph Shepard embraces his running-mate, Taben Azad, after their ticket was announced as the winning candidates for 2017-17 student body president and vice president.

Cheers of triumph echoed Wednesday evening through the Rhatigan Student Center as Joseph Shepard and Taben Azad were announced as the student body president and vice president for the 2016-17 school year. 

Shepard and Azad were elected by a large margin over the Spark and Shockers United tickets; they were voted in by a margin of nearly 180 votes more than Shockers United, which came in second. 

Shepard is the current student body president under the 58th sessions of Student Government Association, while Azad serves as chairman of the campus issues committee. 

Shepard said he was surprised he and Azad won by a large margin.

“I knew in my heart it was going to be a very close race,” he said. “If I lost, I was expecting to lose by 50. If I had the honor to win, I was maybe going to win by 20. I never expected to win by 180 at all.” 

The 59th session of SGA will be sworn in April 27 during a joint meeting with the 58th session.

The presidential candidates on the other tickets said they hope the senators elected under their ticket can work with Shepard and Azad’s session.

“Hopefully they’re all able to collaborate,” said Ruben Lebrón, the presidential candidate on Shockers United. “There’s no more Shockers United, there’s no more Spark, there’s no more Progress, now there are not parties. Hopefully they can all work together.” 

Michael Schultz, presidential candidate on the Spark ticket, had similar sentiments.

“I think that our vision can definitely still be executed next year in that session,” Schultz said.

Both Lebrón and Schultz said they hope to serve in the next session of SGA in some capacity.  

Shepard acknowledged that senators from all parties were elected to office.

 “I think it’s important to note that there’s going to be a little bit of everyone from every single ticket on Senate representing the university,” he said.

In addition to the election of a new session, an SGA constitutional amendment to add a Senate position specifically for a veteran passed. The amendment required 7 percent of the student body to vote. 

“I think that sometimes we don’t necessarily look to the Veteran Affairs or veterans in general as to what they want to see on our campus,” Shepard said. “I think that they have a different perspective.”

Shepard said he was hesitant about running for re-election this year.

“I spoke up in regards to a lot of issues that offended some people,” he said. “So going into this year, I was kind of hesitant to run. I’m glad that I was able to step out on faith. I’m glad my vice president elect, Taben Azad, was willing to take a chance with me and really show the university that we’re ready to progress this institution.”