The 2012 Texas Student Government race for Student Body President and Vice President was marred with scandal. There were disqualifications of two teams, and one team even sued the University. As a result, some students are disinterested in Student Government, but this year's candidates are hoping to change that.
The Vice Chair of the Student Government Election Supervisory Board, Ryan Lutz, said there was a more conscious effort to keep the candidates informed and the communication open this year than ever before.
"This year we're really trying to be proactive with the candidates before campaigning even started, to really reach out to them and give them as much information as possible," he said.
So far, this has made an impact on the race. According to Lutz, there have not been any violations reported. Last year, there were multiple right out of the gates.
Student Body Presidential candidate, Horacio Villarreal, is a seasoned veteran in Student Government, and says he can definitely tell a difference. He was elected University-Wide Representative in 2012, and witnessed last year's controversy.
"The Election Supervisory Board has done a really good job of spelling out some of those rules and making them a little more clear," he said. He claims there has been an outright commitment to clean campaigning across the board. "It's essentially just about following the rules, not tip-toeing around those violations, and running a clean campaign."
Another Student Body Vice Presidential candidate agrees, and hopes her team will encourage students to trust. Maddie Fogel stressed the importance of Student Government here at UT, and her team's focus on the good that can come from it.
"Student Government at UT has a lot of power to do a lot of good things, but I think right now people don't realize that potential because of all of the animosity and the things that have happened in the past," Fogel said.
While these students are serious about making a difference on campus, others are simply providing some comic relief to election season. One team, for instance, is running with hopes of installing a lazy river for commuting to class, as well as allowing beer on campus.
That light-heartedness is felt throughout the campaign, and many believe it's a direct result of what happened last year.
"We want to have fun with this," Student Body Vice Presidential candidate, Ugeo Williams, said. "We're not trying to by any means attack any other student on campus. Anybody can have an idea that can be valuable."
Another reason why this race is different is that none of these candidates have desires to go into politics beyond the 40 Acres.
"We're passionate about politics. We care about anything that can make a difference and anything that can improve our education but it's not the next step to the capitol for us," Fogel said.
Voting opens Wednesday, February 27th at 8 AM and closes at 5 PM on Thursday, February 28th. UT students can vote online at utexasvote.org.