Student Government elections are on Feb. 26, but four out of the five executive positions were filled on Feb. 20 because the candidates were unopposed.
The incoming executive officers are SGA president Michael Matrick, Attorney General Jourdan Green, Election Commissioner Madison Crimm and Treasurer Destiny Chafin.
Junior sociology major Michael Matrick posted a statement on Feb. 20 at midnight.
“I am humbled and honored to announce that I will be serving as your 2019-2020 student body president,” Matrick said. “This opportunity has always been a dream of mine, which has now come into reality!”
Matrick said choosing Southern Miss was the best decision of his life.
Matrick’s job in the 2018-2019 school year was executive director of communications. He said this along with the foundation left by the previous SGA administration is what led him to his campaign plans, which at the moment revolve around image, branding and communication.
“I’m so glad that [Stone] helped establish what it was so that I could work off of that,” Matrick said.
Matrick said he plans to re-envision what the SGA is to the student body.
“I think there’s this gap, and there’s been this gap between people who are involved in SGA and people who are not,” Matrick said. “In reality, if you want to sit back and look at it, the Student Government Association, its job is to enforce and be a support system for the student body.”
Matrick was not the only candidate that was confirmed on Feb. 20.
Current SGA president, senior communications studies major McKenna Stone, congratulated Matrick on his candidacy.
“I am honored to pass the torch to Michael Matrick this April! He’s done an excellent job in the position of executive director of communications this year, and I have no doubt he will similarly excel as SGA president,” Stone said. “Michael is fun, energetic, approachable, open-minded and people-oriented. Southern Miss students, you are in good hands next year! I believe Michael will represent you well on the University and State levels.”
Junior communication studies major Madison Crimm applied and was elected as SGA election commissioner.
“I was very excited to learn that I had won the position. A few of my good friends had also won their elections, so it was definitely a time for celebration,” Crimm said. “At the same time, I felt incredibly humbled knowing that the student body had entrusted me with this position.”
Crimm said, along with the regular duties of the SGA election commissioner, she wants to run voter registration drives to inform people of voter registration laws in Mississippi.
“I plan on utilizing the election commission body in a more efficient way and using Varsity volunteers to help out with elections as needed,” Crimm said.
When asked about running unopposed, Crimm said that she feels there is a stigma around running unopposed that does not belong. She said she is confident in her abilities and believes she will perform her duties well. Matrick said the reason many candidates ran unopposed was due to lack of student involvement.
Associate professor of political science Joseph Weinberg, Ph.D., said unopposed elections could mean many things, but they are not always bad.
“Running opposed isn’t necessarily good or bad,” Weinberg said. “It can indicate a lack of interest, which I think if you went back a lot of years, you’d find that people are less interested now in play government than they used to be.”
“It can be an indication that these are the right people,” Weinberg said.
Weinberg said this lack of interest could come from a lack of drive or time to perform the job, and there are people who will win if they run.
“The other possibility is a huge conspiracy, which can be the most interesting part,” Weinberg said. “That would be excited, but it is highly unlikely.”
Weinberg said even though SGA is a government inside of the university, it works identically to state and federal government.
“[On Feb. 20] we had this state representative debate, and the same thing came up,” Weinberg said. “Last [election] it was unopposed, and they were saying what a good thing it was that five people were running.”