VERMILLION, S.D. -- Students at the University of South Dakota elected a new Student Government Association (SGA) President and Vice President. Alissa VanMeeteren of Yankton, S.D., is the next SGA President while DJ Smith of Mitchell, S.D., is the new SGA Vice President following an election that broke a campus record for student participation.
VanMeeteren, a junior, defeated Josh VanLaecken, a senior from Watertown, S.D., and his running mate, Stephen Bollinger, a sophomore of Pierre, S.D. More than 2,000 students cast a vote with VanMeeteren-Smith garnering 1,097 votes out of the 2,031 cast (54 percent) and VanLaecken-Bollinger getting 46 percent (934 total votes). The record campus vote pleased VanMeeteren, who noted that she and Smith campaigned hard for several months.
“We reached out to all departments and student groups on campus always offering our sincere interest and willingness to help,” stated VanMeeteren, a political science and economics double major. “Beginning the day we came back from winter break, DJ and I launched an email account, Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel.”
Providing a voice for USD students and working with student organizations are the top priorities for VanMeeteren and Smith as they look ahead. VanMeeteren and Smith will serve for one-term and will be sworn in at an SGA meeting this month. They will replace Collin Michels, president, and Nick Weinandt, vice president.
“Our job is to serve those who have elected us. It is our responsibility to be as open and attentive to those individuals as possible,” she added. “Throughout the next few months, I hope to hold a number of town hall sessions outside of weekly SGA meetings. Once we have collected the students’ opinion, we will be able to take a stronger stance for or against some of these issues. Additionally, I'd like to utilize surveys and online polls. We owe our position to the students; therefore, it is our responsibility to collect their opinion and move forward accordingly.”