Junior Evan Harris was elected Richmond College Student Government Association president, beating out his friend, junior Colin Billings.
"I can't be smiling too much right now -- definitely later on -- but right now, it's [Billings] who put a lot of heart into it, who really loved it also lost," Harris said after hearing the results, "but I'll be looking forward to working alongside him next year."
Harris said he hoped Billings would take on as large of a role in RCSGA as he could next year. Billings was unavailable for comment immediately after the results were revealed.
Junior Taylor Michals was named Westhampton College Government Association president. She ran for the position unopposed.
The RCSGA results were announced in the Westhampton Hanging Lounge on the second floor of Tyler Haynes Commons Tuesday night. The total vote count was 583, said former RCSGA president Will Gordon. They do not publish each candidate's vote tally, he said. Gordon said he had been pleased with the turnout.
Harris said he had felt tired, drained, excited, and nervous before the announcement because of a week of campaigning.
"First thing is, I'm going to go home; I'm going to take off my shoes," he said. "After that, I'm going to send out a couple emails, thank all my supporters and then, I'm going to hop right on it."
The race for president appeared to be old-school versus new-school, as far as campaign strategies.
Harris ran his campaign in the more old-fashioned way.
"I tried to go around and keep it light, just stay true to myself," Harris said. "I like to be handshaking rather than [creating] a big website or something like that."
Meanwhile, Billings turned to the new-school approach.
"I definitely focused on social media," Billings said. "I saw that as an opportunity to reach a larger constituency."
Billings created a Facebook event, his own campaign website and a YouTube channel to talk about his views, he said.
"I think that it also demonstrates my ability to communicate with the larger constituency of Richmond College next year if I'm elected," Billings said.
Harris and Billings said they had been good friends for a while.
"It's been tough," Billings said. "Me and Evan haven't been in as much contact this week as we have in the past. I think after tonight -- whatever happens -- we're going to wake up tomorrow, and me and Evan are still going to be friends."
Both felt confidently that the other would do a great job if elected president, they said. Each also said becoming president had been one of his goals for a long time.
"I couldn't picture myself without the Richmond College Student Government Association," Harris said. "Student government is my thing; that's where my time goes; that's what I'm devoted to. I've been doing it since second grade."
Harris, who served as president of his junior and sophomore classes, said his three years of involvement with RCSGA had helped him deal with many different people, including administrators and other SGA members.
Billings, a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and Sigma Phi Epsilon, said his involvement in other groups on campus had given him the edge in building relationships and other important skills.
"Sig Ep prides ourselves on being a diverse group of men," Billings said. "Being able to hear all the different issues on campus from all these different guys in my own fraternity has given me a very good background on what the men of Richmond College desire to see.
"In ROTC, much of the skills and experience that I've developed have been about personal discipline, and so I've developed incredible time-management skills."
Gordon said time management was one of the biggest challenges the winner would face.
"Senior year is busy with a lot of other things," Gordon said. "It's only one year, so a lot of it is laying groundwork for the future and trying to build off things that have happened before you.
"You always like to see things to the end, so it's disappointing when, maybe you don't see the project all the way through, but you can feel good that you got a good start and made it good for the next group."
Richmond College Dean Joe Boehman, the RCSGA advisor, echoed Gordon's sentiments about the lack of time a student is able to serve as president.
"One of the things that I talk with presidents all the time is that what you're doing is tying up the loose ends from the guy before and trying to set the table for maybe two or three years down the road, so you have to have a much broader vision," Boehman said.
"My biggest piece of advice to get started is don't feel like you have to accomplish everything in one day. Try to take the long view and recognize that you are continuing a legacy. The question is not, 'What am I going to accomplish?' but 'What am I going to continue to move forward for that organization?'"
Harris and Billings expressed some of their goals in their debate Monday night.
Harris has three main ideas, he said. He said he wanted to make an alumni mentorship program, to get smaller organizations on campus more involved and to give students the option of performing community service when they received parking tickets.
"I'm here mostly on financial aid, paying for college all myself," he said. "One of my friends parked outside his house for 15 minutes in a handicapped spot, which is wrong, but in that time, he got two tickets -- one for $80 and the next for $135.
"If I got stuff like that, that would completely wipe out my bank account right now and, honestly, that's terrible. [Community service] is a good option for the kids who can't afford to pay that."
Boehman said he had thought changes to the way parking tickets were resolved was realistic.
"I think it might be a question of -- what is the weight of the students on parking as opposed to the representation that they have now?" Boehman said.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org