By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — In a historic move, Tennessee State University held its first-ever virtual Student Government Association campaign and elections for 2020/2021. Usually conducted in the spring after weeks of in-person campaigning on campus, the elections this year were held recently solely online as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Undergraduate and graduate students showed up in record numbers to vote for their favorite candidates.
The new student leadership, including a Mister TSU and a Miss TSU, was announced by the Student Election Commission on Saturday, August 29.
TSU President Glenda Glover, along with staff from the Office of Student Affairs, faculty, alumni, family members and guests, was on hand to congratulate the new officers when the election results were announced.
Danville, Illinois, native Dominique Davis, a senior business administration major with a supply chain concentration, was elected the new SGA executive president, while Toree Sims, a computer science major from Louisville, Kentucky, was elected executive vice president.
Winning the coveted Miss TSU crown was Mariah Rhodes, a senior political science major from Memphis, Tennessee. Naton Smith, Jr., a health sciences major from St. Louis, will escort Rhodes as the new Mister TSU.
Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, said although the elections were delayed due to COVID-19, the students’ enthusiasm was “very high and the virtual presentation added a very positive dimension” to the whole process.
Not only were they creative and very much on point, but the level of interest and enthusiasm of the students shown by the number of voters was pretty exciting,” Stevenson said. “We have a great group of student leaders that is ready to work hard, and we are very proud of the political process and how our students presented themselves.”
Davis, who becomes the 80th administration executive president of the SGA, said she is excited about the core of leaders in the new administration.
“In this challenging time that we are in, we know that we have a lot to deliver to our student body,” Davis said. “I am just really excited. We have a lot of great student leaders who are very eager to serve the needs of our student body and I know we will be able to get a lot done.”
The theme of the new student government is “Trailblazing,” Davis said.
For Rhodes, the new Miss TSU, she assured fellow students that although the university is cutting down on activities because of the pandemic, she plans to implement a number of events virtually to keep students engaged.
“I am going to be the best representation for TSU,” said Rhodes. “This year is going to look different, but we are going to make sure students are part of everything. We will be more transparent with students, making sure they are included in all decisions we make.”
Dr. Tobias R. Morgan, assistant dean of Student Engagement and Leadership, congratulated the new student leaders and thanked the Student Election Commission under the chairmanship of Akiliyiah Sumlin, for the very efficient manner in which the process was conducted. Sumli is a senior agricultural sciences major from Langston, Oklahoma.
“Sumlin rose to the occasion and was able to adapt to an ever-changing environment as we reworked our plans numerous times to ensure the integrity of the election process,” Morgan said. “We wish each of you leaders much success as you lay the groundwork for a new normal among student leadership and governance at Tennessee State University.”
Following is the list of the new Miss TSU court and other members of the SGA: Mr. Senior – Michael Caldwell from Atlanta, GA – Mechanical Engineering major; Junior Class President – Imani Marshall of Tampa, FL – Mathematics major; Miss Junior – Mallory Moore of Birmingham, AL – Health Sciences major; Mister Sophomore – Widmark J. Cadet, Jr. of Chester, VA – Business Administration/Marketing major; Miss Freshman – Taryn Henry of Tallahassee, FL– Cardiopulmonary Science/Respiratory Therapy major; SUBG Chair – Sydnei Everett from Nashville, TN – Public Health Major; Representatives At Large: 1. Nzinga Ajamu from Memphis, TN – Business administration/Supply Chain major; 2. Kailyn Allen from Memphis, TN – Mass Communication major.