After introducing Cal Poly to a slew of lime green T-shirts and fending off a last-minute competitor, Katie Morrow captured the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) presidency Thursday afternoon.
The new president-elect shared hugs and kisses with her supporters and family who gathered close in the University Union (UU) Plaza during the minutes leading up to the announcement. Morrow’s campaign manager Haley Houle presented her with a bouquet of flowers before Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong joined them in the celebrations to congratulate Morrow.
“We have a really exciting year ahead,” Morrow said after the results were announced. “Students are going to start seeing some of the changes we’ve been working on for a while now because we can really build on them and really develop them. I think everyone should be really excited, I’m just so excited right now.”
The social sciences junior collected the majority of the 5,222 votes tallied after appearing as the only candidate on the ballot during the 24-hour election period, begining Wednesday morning. The 29 percent of students who voted is substantially lower than last year’s record-setting 37 percent voter turnout.
Brianna Mulligan, Board of Directors representative in the Orfalea College of Business and recruitment and development chair, announced the election results during UU Hour in front of dozens of students, many of whom wore the candidate’s self-branded T-shirt with her campaign’s slogan: “Taking the Next Step.”
Morrow said she was “thrilled” with the election results: nearly 75 percent of those who voted chose Morrow as the new ASI president.
“I’m happy that I got a strong majority and everything like that,” Morrow said. “I’m happy the students had faith in me representing them, and I’m going to make sure I do a good job of that.”
Morrow enjoyed days of unopposed campaigning before a surprise write-in offered a challenge a week before the vote took place. Biomedical engineering senior Nha Ha entered the contest, despite knowing his name would not appear on the online ballots.
The new ASI president-elect spoke with Ha in the hour before results were revealed. She said the two talked about what they were doing before the announcement and wished each other good luck.
“I was not sure at all (I would win),” Morrow said. “I’m not a cocky person in any way. At no point did I feel like a shoe-in, ever. I mean I’ve been talking all day like I’ll be sad if I lose, and I’m glad I don’t have to be sad. But it’s a thought I’ve had the entire time. You never know what could happen.”
Morrow will take the position from current ASI President Kiyana Tabrizi, who Morrow served under as chief of staff. While working with her predecessor, Morrow acted as a student representative in committees both on and off campus. In an interview with the Mustang Daily last week, she said her work with Tabrizi broadened her perspective on Cal Poly and brought her closer to university-level administrators.
Though political science senior Tabrizi said she will be sad to leave the position, she believes her friend and colleague will successfully transition to become the face of student government.
“The learning curve for her is going to be very small, maybe smaller than any ASI president in the past,” Tabrizi said of Morrow. “If I can’t go to something, she’s the person I call. If I can bring someone, she’s the person I’d like to bring. I don’t like calling her my chief of staff, because it sounds like she works for me. She’s really my right-hand girl.”
ASI also announced the new Board of Directors on Thursday, whose candidates were also campaigning throughout the week leading up to the election. The Board of Directors is the “official voice of the students,” according to the ASI website. It is broken up by academic colleges within Cal Poly, allocating a certain number of positions for each.
Some of the board members will also be faced with a never-before-seen task next year: serving on the Student Success Fee allocation committee. The committee, which will be co-chaired by Morrow, has seats for one Board of Directors representative from each of the six colleges, as well as faculty and administrative representatives.
Armstrong, who formally recommended the fee to California State University Chancellor Charles Reed in March, said he expects the students and faculty to put aside their differences in colleges and distribute the money to help all of Cal Poly.
“I want them to first and foremost have their Cal Poly lenses on and be thinking about what’s best for Cal Poly,” he said. “And second I want them to be thinking about their constituency, because we have every college represented. But let’s just say the representative from the College of Architecture; I want him or her to be thinking about what’s best for Cal Poly. And they’re also going to be looking at it secondarily through their college lens.”
Ten of the 24 elected officials will return from this year’s board after being reelected by students, who cast far less votes for Board of Directors than they did for the president. Newcomer Silvia Aguilar, a mechanical engineering senior, led the candidates with 540 votes.
Morrow, who will work closely with the Board of Directors during her year in office, said she was happy with who the students chose to be on it.
“I’m very impressed (by the new board),” she said. “There’s quite a few really strong returners and quite a few students that I’ve met who are involved across campus who saw ASI and wanted to get involved in it. They’ll bring a lot of great experience from all across campus, so I’m excited to work with them.”
All results are unofficial until ratified at the Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday.