Note: ASG President-Elect Julia Nall of the Forward As One ticket is Design Editor of The Arkansas Traveler. The Arkansas Traveler strives for comprehensive coverage of all election tickets.
With a passion for mentorship and giving back to the community, Julia Nall, Associated Student Government president-elect, ran with the hope of being a leader who can inspire others and provide adequate resources to registered student organizations.
Nall and Vice President-elect Ben Cameron won the ASG executive election run-off March 13 with 2,102 votes, the exact number needed for the majority threshold.
Nall’s first course of action will be to assemble her cabinet, but recent developments related to the global pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19) have underlined the importance of making the applications and interviews accessible for anyone who is interested, she said. Nall said the application and selection process for cabinet members will be finished by the end of the semester.
“We need it to be as accessible as possible, including for students who don’t necessarily have internet access at home,” Nall said.
Nall had been considering running for ASG president for a while and thinks student government is an effective way to bring change to campus. Her platform, Forward As One, stressed the importance of distributing funds to international student organizations and advocating for an inclusive alcohol amnesty program on campus.
“Student government, for all of its faults, is a really great way to impact change on campus, especially with our student fee money,” Nall said.
Nall said she wants to be sure that ASG is “really using our budget and our reach to serve students.”
Nall asked Cameron in October 2019 about running together. She knew Cameron had the experience and was the right person for the job, but when she reached out, he originally did not want to run at all.
“I had considered running (for president),” Cameron said. “I’d considered running in another position, but really, I kind of had almost talked myself out of it prior to that.”
Nall convinced him over a cup of coffee to join her ticket, and they set out from there to build up the rest of their team. Soon after Cameron agreed to join the ticket, the team approached Jissel Esparza about running as treasurer and Emma Kate Dillon about running as secretary.
Dillon said yes to the position pretty quickly, and Esparza followed.
“It felt like it was moving pretty slowly, then suddenly we had all four of us,” Nall said.
Dillon won the election for ASG secretary March 9, and the rest of the positions advanced to a runoff election March 10-12.
Nall, Cameron and Lexi Robertson, a campaign manager for the Forward as One ticket, all said they were content with the way they ran the campaign. They have hopes that, regardless of the rest of the ticket being elected, they will still have made an impact.
“Truthfully, win or lose, these folks are starting conversations that will last a very long time, and they’re bringing up topics that have needed to be changed for a while now,” Robertson said. “I think that no matter what, these changes will continue to occur because they have started those conversations, and I’m just really proud of that.”
Nall said she is excited to have a chance to give back to the campus and mentors that helped her.
“I think that mentorship is incredibly important,” Nall said, “and I wouldn’t be where I am in college right now, being able to run for this – being able to take the classes I’m in – if I hadn’t had those mentors building me up, and I think about what those relationships have meant to me.”
Nall will not exclude anyone from a cabinet position based on who they supported or voted for in the general election, she said. She thinks everyone deserves to be included in the discussion. She also wants to meet with the other team to create the best blend of policies for the UofA.
“I’m going to build the best team, and that will have absolutely nothing to do with who they may or may not have voted for,” Nall said.
Nall said she and Cameron are excited for the opportunity to lead and are grateful for each vote they received. In regards to the second run-off election, Nall thinks it should not be happening, she said.
With classes being moved online and the health and safety of students being a big concern, the newly elected executives would rather be focusing on using their platform to promote public safety, Nall said.
“We think it’s silly that we have to go and post all of our names on social media when students are being quarantined, students are facing heightened food insecurity, students don’t know where they’re going to live,” Nall said.
Nall said her team does not think the “prefer not to respond” option should be on the ballot next year, and there should just be a “skip” option that does not factor into the vote total.
“That ‘prefer not to respond’ option is unfair to students, it’s unfair to our campus,” Nall said. “There are clearly bigger things at hand right now and we’re aware of that.”