Student Government Presidential Campaigns Heat Up

Allie Thompson/Fourth Estate

Candidates prepare for the vote, or lack thereof


As Student Government President Bekah Pettine and Vice President Erik Truong prepare to graduate, one new campaign is running to succeed them, while one campaign is running to ask students not to vote for them.

The first ticket, with Camden Layton and Adia McLaughlin, is running a rather traditional campaign.

“Adia and I are running because we believe we are the best option to represent the student body,” said Layton, the presidential candidate for Mason’s student body. “We have a diverse background of experiences that will transfer over into these positions, and we want to enact real change and continue the progress we have made in Student Government.”

The other campaign, however, is anything but traditional. Micah Mudlaff and Davide Genoese-Zerbi are running to represent the “Vote for Nobody” campaign, an initiative which “encourages students to select ‘Abstain from Voting’ in the Student Body Presidential Election,” according to Mudlaff. The ticket intends to drop out of the race prior to the vote going live.

“We view it as a referendum on Student Government,” Mudlaff added. “If students are content with no real change and being ignored by the administration year after year, then they are welcome to continue to support the status quo. But if you want a chance to change Mason, this is the one shot you have to actually make a difference.”

In addition, Mudlaff and Genoese-Zerbi have also proposed three amendments to the student body constitution in order to solidify their platform. These amendments include moving Student Senate sessions from Thursdays to Fridays to attract more students, requiring members of the Student Senate and executive branch to wait one year before being considered for appointment to the Elections and Disputes Commission and reducing the maximum number of student senators from 40 to 30.

Conversely, the Layton/McLaughlin ticket is running on the slogan “Progress with Purpose.” Layton, currently the executive undersecretary for civic engagement for Student Government, said, “‘Progress with purpose’ really is a short way of saying that we not only have initiatives that we want to put out there, but we want to see our initiatives actually move forward.”

In terms of platform initiatives, Layton added, “I’ve had a lot of people coming up to me saying that they’ve had so many issues with [Title IX]… Sexual assault is a very serious topic, and I want to make sure that [Title IX reform is] really pushed.”

Layton and McLaughlin also mentioned initiatives to work on affordable student housing with the City of Fairfax, as well as strengthening Student Government relationships with the Mason police department and Mason Recreation.

Mudlaff and Genoese-Zerbi wanted it to be clear that they are not asking students to antagonize their opponents, just that they want to make a statement to Student Government and Mason administration.

We are dissatisfied with that lack of real representation students have within [Student Government],” said Mudlaff. “We want to have real conversations with those students already interested in Student Involvement and Student Government about the need for fundamental changes within the structure of [Student Government] in order to better empower their voices, and in turn, the voices of all students as well.”

Mudlaff also pointed out that “there’s an overwhelmingly large section of the student body that doesn’t vote in these elections. Last year, it was 92 percent.”

When asked about their opponents’ platform of abstaining from the vote, Layton and McLaughlin said in an email to Fourth Estate, “We support an individual’s right to vote, regardless of who they vote for, and if they choose to abstain and do not believe that Adia and I could best serve as Student Body President and Vice President then that is out of our control. Regardless of outcome, Adia and I will continue to advocate for the ideas of students and hope that they can put their faith in us.”