By Jamari Jordan
force or speed of movement; impetus, as of a physical object or course of events:
On Thursday, the University of Georgia student body elected the Momentum ticket consisting of president Johnelle Simpson, vice president Houston Gaines, and treasurer Darby Miller to the executive branch of the Student Government Association.
This year’s election has been unique to say the least. Unlike in recent years, Momentum was the only ticket on the ballot as the group ran unopposed. However, that did not stop the group from campaigning as if they had an opponent.
Momentum stickers, flyers, booths, tweets, and other paraphernalia engulfed the campus this week. They waned to make a statement that they ran unopposed for a reason, because they were the best candidates for the job.
For the better good, running unopposed actually gave Momentum another advantage, more time to talk one on one with the student body. Instead of dealing with usual campaign speech and rhetoric, Momentum talked about the facts and their plans for the campus this upcoming year during their encounters with students.
Darby Miller is a second year Marketing major from Rogers, Arkansas. Miller has been involved with SGA since she arrived on campus her freshman year. Additionally, Miller is a Visitor’s Center tour guide and will be an Orientation Leader this summer entertaining and advising incoming freshmen. According to her running mate Simpson, there is no better treasurer than Miller for SGA.
“Darby is a member of small clubs allocation committee with current SGA treasurer Brittany Arnold,” said Simpson. “She’s been very active and vocal in making sure clubs wisely use their funds and is spread proportionally amongst the most deserving clubs.”
Houston Gaines is a second year double major in Political Science and Economics from right here in Athens, Ga. Gaines has politics in his blood. This year, he served as SGA’s Co-Director of Government Relations where he spread SGA’s message not only to the campus but the surrounding Athens-Clarke County area. Under Gaines, SGA has established an annual breakfast with the Mayor of Athens and the Commission in which both parties set the agenda for relations.
Additionally, last year, Gaines served as Mayor Nancy Denson’s campaign manager where she won 60% of the votes and he raised over $100,000.00 for the campaign. That drive and experience is why Simpson thinks Gaines is the ideal vice president. Gaines has taken a major role in holding SGA senators accountable.
“He wants SGA senators to take a more established approach in communicating details between their constituents and SGA,” said Simpson. “A major part of our campaign is making sure senators are in constant contact with their constituents and are expressing their concerns to us.”
Lastly, Johnelle Simpson is a third year double major in Risk Management/Insurance and Political Science from Donalsonville, Ga. Simpson has served as a senator for the Terry College Business for the past two years where he has made great strides for student life inside and outside his college. Last fall, Simpson received the first annual Myron G. Burney Service Award for his great service and efforts in the Athens-Clarke County area. Now, Simpson wants to take his success to a campus-wide level.
With their election, Simpson will be the fourth African-American Student Government Association President in the history of the University of Georgia. Simpson relishes in that history.
“It is kind of hard to forget you are a black man on campus because it is such a small population here,” said Simpson. “That was one of the things I thought before I ran. How would the student body perceive me? Now, I’m looking forward to getting to work right away.”
Momentum seeks to continue the efforts SGA has made over the past school year, especially, that of the current administration of DJB. They feel as if several initiatives started by the current administration were very effective and worth continuing.
“We want to keep the momentum going on some of things we saw DJB implementing that had success like IPSE, meal plan options, and things of that nature,” said Simpson. “We are not copying them, but rather improving what might not have been effective and continuing what was effective.”
IPSE is Inclusive Postsecondary Education. Under IPSE, the administration will continue to provide resources and support of special needs students to come to UGA, receive a college degree, and live and a happy, successful life afterwards.
The administration is also looking to implement a commuter-style meal plan for those who live off-campus. This has been an issue on the table for recent administrations for some time and they hope to finally resolve it with a trial run in the fall or next spring semester.
Also, Momentum’s platform includes efforts for a safer campus, improving student services, and connecting students to available resources. More importantly, Momentum wants students as active participants in SGA’s decision making and thought processes.
“We want to be visible throughout the year for the students,” said Simpson. “In the past, SGA has waited until students presented concerns to them to be active. As an administration, we will be proactive. We want to be aware of the issues students are facing and how can we assist in the process.”
For more information on Momentum visit momentumuga.com