Student Government Association Elections Capture Low Voter Turnout; One Campus Only Tallied 31 Votes

Student Government Association elections at Miami Dade College registered abysmal voter turnoutonly 942 total votes were tallied at seven of its campuses—after voting was forced to go fully online due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Last year, more than 3,500 people voted. 

Medical Campus did not provide numbers for this year or the year prior and Hialeah Campus did not provide last year’s numbers. 

This year, four campuses counted less than 100 votes: Hialeah (31), West (63), Wolfson (85) and Homestead (91). Kendall Campus reported the highest voter turnout with 377 votes and Eduardo J. Padrón Campus reported the biggest dip in votes from the previous year. The Padrón Campus went from 1,126 total votes in 2019 to 141 in 2020, a 985 vote difference.

According to College officials, there were 57,001 credit students at MDC  during the spring semester. 

Voting was held on the College’s online election platform from April 20 to April 26. Positions available for the 2020-21 school year included president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. 

A major factor that contributed to the low voter turnout was the candidate’s inability to campaign on campus before the election. This typically begins the week before elections and continues the week of, but that was not allowed this year because classes were canceled on March 12. 

“I feel that people might have not felt a connection with me because I didn’t have that interpersonal experience with everyone,” said Tyra Fairley, who was elected president at Medical Campus. 

But voter apathy wasn’t the only thing the numbers revealed. Candidate interest also lagged. Three campuses—Hialeah, Medical and Wolfson—did not have candidates for the position of vice-president. The only candidate that Medical Campus had for any position was Fairley. Of the 35 candidates for all the positions college-wide, only seven competed against someone. 

“Due to our transition to a remote environment, we received fewer applications than previous years,” said Annielys Sosa Diaz, the director of Student Life at Wolfson Campus. 

How the missing cabinet spots will be assembled varies from campus to campus. North Campus will conduct a special election in the summer to find a public relations director since no one applied, according to Lorraine Wright, the director of student life at North Campus.  

Medical Campus has taken a similar approach in the past, conducting a special election to fill vacant positions. At other campuses, like Wolfson and West Campus, the president will appoint candidates for the missing slots. 

“Being alone is not something that I’m scared about,” Fairley said. “I do want to have other people that I can talk to and depend on, but I do think that it will get better as things return back to normal.”

The candidates who were elected to serve will start their appointments this summer after they are inaugurated. They will hold their positions through the spring semester of 2021.

 

Student Government Association Vote Count
Campuses 2020 2019
Wolfson 85 1,015
Eduardo J. Padrón 141 1,126
Kendall 377 514
West 63 165
Homestead 91 206
Hialeah 31 Did not provide information.
North 154 506
Medical Did not provide information. Did not provide information.
Grand Total 942 3,532

 

Here are the winners from each campus: 

Eduardo J. Padrón Campus

Photo of Liliam Rojas, SGA president for EJP Campus.
PHOTO COURTESY OF LILIAM ROJAS

President: Liliam Rojas

Rojas wants to make her voice heard, and become more politically and socially involved. She’s been part of beach cleanups, climate strikes, voter registration and leadership retreat. In addition, Rojas has exercised her voice all the way to the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, where she met with Florida senators and representatives to advocate for environmental, housing and healthcare reforms, according to her campaign bio. Rojas believes this, coupled with her SGA expertise, will make her a good president. 

Vice President: Angie Gaitan

Gaitan hopes to strengthen student voices and advocate for them. She wants to do this by raising awareness for immigrant rights and other global issues through campus events. Gaitan is also part of Phi Theta Kappa, Be the Change, and YES! Environmental Sustainability club. 

Treasurer: Ana Garcia

Garcia wants to collaborate with the SGA team to organize service learning projects throughout campus, and work with the College’s administration to provide inclusive recreational events on campus.  

Secretary: Arantxa Freire

Freire, an 18-year-old international relations major, believes that everyone has a voice that can generate an impact. She wants to use the feedback she gets from students to organize fun, enriching events on campus, and be agents of change throughout Miami-Dade County. 

Hialeah Campus

President: Nataly Vazquez

Vazquez, a 19-year-old nursing major, wants to listen to her peers, and turn words into action. She hopes to use her platform to host campus-wide events that will help engage students with SGA. To her, SGA isn’t a club, but a tight-knit community. Outside of the club, Vazquez aspires to be a nurse. 

Executive Secretary: Massimo Venulejo

Venulejo, who moved to Miami three years from the Czech Republic, sees his position as secretary as a stepping stone to greater things in the future. He will be in charge of recording meetings, maintaining SGA files and managing correspondence. Venulejo is studying business administration. 

Homestead Campus

Photo of Angelo Douillon, SGA president for Homestead Campus.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANGELO DOUILLON

President: Angelo Douillon

Douillon wants to prove that MDC can build leaders. In addition to SGA, the 19-year-old computer science major is treasurer of the musical minds club at Homestead Campus, and enjoys composing music and playing the piano. He wants to increase student participation at college and community events, as well as produce more engagement between local law enforcement and students. 

Vice President: Victoria Pulido

Pulido, who is studying psychology in hopes of becoming a physician, hopes to bring new ideas through her perspective as a first-year student. She is currently the membership director of SGA at Homestead Campus. Pulido wants to advocate for mental health awareness, volunteer work and making a difference in people’s lives. 

“As we aspire to return to campus, it is important to recognize the different challenges and hardships our student body is experiencing in this time of need and uncertainty,” Pulido said in her campaign bio. 

Executive Secretary: Dayenis Scull

Scull will arrange the weekly agenda for SGA meetings and take notes. A 19-year-old biology major, she hopes to become a trauma surgeon in the future. Scull graduated from Everglades Preparatory Academy. 

Treasurer: Steven Olvera

Olvera, a business administration major, will be in charge of facilitating budgets for campus-wide events. He’s been involved with Phi Beta LambdaHomestead Campus and is a recipient of the College Assistant Migrant Program Scholarship. After MDC, Olvera hopes to transfer to the University of Florida to study accounting. 

Kendall Campus

Photo of Anthony Valenzuela, SGA president for Kendall Campus.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANTHONY VALENZUELA

President: Anthony Valenzuela

Valenzuela has made it his mission to advocate for students, all the way to Tallahassee, where he’s represented MDC before state legislators. As president, he will represent SGA at college events, oversee meetings and inform SGA members of issues related to The Florida College System Student Government Association. While at SGA, Valenzuela has hosted debates on campus related immigration and gun control, as well as hosted guest speakers that have spoken about post traumatic stress disorder and campus safety. 

Vice-President: Carolina Lopez-Varela

Lopez-Varela, who studies business administration at The Honors College, wants to build stronger relationships between SGA and the student body. Last year, she chaired the multimedia committee, where she revamped MDC’s Student Life Instagram page, and increased SGA’s social media presence. 

Chief Coordinator: Maritza Allen-Brown

Allen-Brown, a first-year student studying political science, will serve as a liaison between SGA and other Kendall Campus student organizations, as well as promote the club’s activities and events. She got involved with SGA through the non-profit foundation American Red Cross, where she managed a shelter during Hurricane Irma in 2017. She later chaired the Inclusion Committee in 2019. In addition to being a voice for students, Allen-Brown wants to be the bridge between faculty and students. 

Chief Justice: Michelle Renee Bones

Bones, who studies criminal justice administration, was already appointed chief justice in February. She will be responsible for keeping track of excused absences, as well as updating SGA’s infraction, contact hours and attendance logs. She also took on the role of chairperson of the Community Service Community last fall. 

Secretary: Ana Rey

Rey, a first-year student of the HC, hopes to use her position to encourage students to be leaders and activists. She currently serves as an SGA senator, and works with the Food Pantry Committee. 

Medical Campus

Photo of Tyra Fairley, SGA president for Medical Campus.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TYRA FAIRLEY

President: Tyra Fairley

Fairley hopes to bring positivity and support to the student body. Fairley, a nursing major, hopes to work in the ICU of a distinguished hospital and nurse anesthetist. Before MDC, she attended Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School. 

North Campus

President: Michael Cruz

Cruz, who studies political science, served as a senator this year. Through his position, he hopes to promote environmental sustainability, fundraising and student-led activism on campus.

“I intend on leading the largest ever progressive reform of SGA,” Cruz said in his campaign bio.  

Vice-President: Rahman Ibraheem

Ibraheem, who served as a senator this year, hopes to rebuild student’s trust with SGA. As vice-president, she will prepare agendas for and preside over general sessions, assume the president’s duties when they’re absent and more. 

Secretary: Sheamar Robinson

Robinson, currently an SGA senator and biology major, aspires to be a professional dancer and doctor of osteopathic medicine. He started working with the Student Life department in high school, where he participated in campus events and projects. Robinson hopes to bring peace on campus. 

Treasurer: Evelyn Alvarez

Evelyn Alvarez prides herself on her ability to take action and multi-task. A chemistry major, Alvarez first joined SGA as a way to help out in the community, and has so far served as co-chair of the marketing committee. 

“My experience with being a treasurer is very little,” Alvarez said in her campaign bio. “But I do know how to manage the financial assets very well.”

West Campus

Photo of Estefania Del Rio,.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ESTEFANIA DEL RIO

President: Estefania Del Rio 

Del Rio, born in Cuba and moved to Miami at 8 years old, hopes to travel the world as a practicing nurse in the future. As SGA president, Del Rio feels that her experience and dependability makes her a good fit.  

“I’m not just a leader,” Del Rio said in her campaign biography. “I’m a person people can count on.”

Vice President: Mily Vargas 

Vargas, a 20-year-old nursing student, joined SGA in order to better serve the MDC and local community through volunteering and engagement. In her campaign bio, she detailed a plan to create bi-monthly volunteering opportunities for West Campus students. Vargas aspires to be a neonatal nurse practitioner in order to care for vulnerable populations. 

Treasurer: Daniela Figueroa

Figueroa will be in charge of maintaining the SGA budget, providing a treasurer report once a month and tabulating office hours from the executive board and senators every month. Her first taste of leadership came from being the drum major coordinator of her high school band, where she had to lead the band during competitions. As treasurer, Figueroa wants to dedicate her time to attending meetings, events and organizing projects. 

Wolfson Campus

Photo of Ella Paredes.
PHOTO OF ELLA PAREDES COURTESY OF ANNIELYS SOSA DIAZ

President: Ella Paredes

Paredes, a Miami native, is studying political science and international relations. She began working with SGA last year as a senator and was later elected Pro Tempore. During her tenure, Paredes hopes to provide opportunities for diverse groups on campus.  

Treasurer: Barbara T. Ramirez 

Ramirez, who majors in health services administration, also works as an assistant coordinator at Wolfson Campus’ Student Life department. Born in Cuba, she’s previously served as an SGA senator, where she developed projects and promoted the club. Ramirez hopes to connect with the campus community through fundraising initiatives and events. 

 

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