Meet the Two New SA Candidates on the Block


full Student Association elections are approaching quickly, and it's important that Jerk readers hit the polls (aka MySlice) to carefully select which students will lead our cherished institution into the future. Until recently, only Aysha Seedat and Jane Hong were in the running, but things just got a bit more interesting with the introduction of some serious unseen competition: AJ Abell and Jon Dawson.

Don’t expect to see them on the ballot, though — as their fundraising page states, “Chancellor Kent and his minions have tried to limit the students who can run.” Abell and Dawson feel most students did not know when the deadline was to be on the ballot, so they’re now running as a write-in campaign.

We spoke to Abell and Dawson and got them to answer a few questions so that you all can make informed voting decisions come April 13.

Where they came from: This isn’t their first time running for office. Abell ran last year as a write-in, but with no success, and Dawson has been on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for two years, where he currently serves as treasurer. Both have been teammates on the Syracuse rowing team throughout their college career and say that their involvement on campus allows them to see problems through many different eyes (student athletes, Greeks, etc.).

Their main ideas:

1. Transparency. Abell and Dawson want students to be actively involved with decisions made at Syracuse. They plan to use focus groups and town hall-structured meetings to give students opportunities to voice their complaints.

2. DPS/student relations. The candidates decided that the relationship between students and the campus police is not as helpful as it should be. Dawson says they’re striving for students to feel like every officer is their best bud, like the beloved Officer Joe Shanley.

3. Student life. Abell and Dawson have a mission of “raising awareness of sexual assault and of on and off campus violence.” They’ve had meetings with organizations on campus like A Men’s Issue and the Girl Code Movement to address this part of their campaign.

4. #enAbell (pronounced “enable”). The Abell/Dawson team wants to support students in reaching their goals by making sure they have access to the resources they need to succeed.

About that cat page: Yes, their website has a page solely dedicated to photos of cats. And actually, they have a cat. Both candidates say that they want to be thought of as “down-to-earth” and don’t want to give off an air of being above the students. Abell says the cats help him incorporate some of his own personality into the website.

On managing time: Obviously, being student athletes can be pretty time consuming. When asked how they would cope with another huge time commitment, the candidates seemed confident they are up to the challenge. Dawson says that there are some sacrifices that they have already begun to make, for example, missing most of the NCAA tournament so far. The horror! And Abell says he hasn’t been able to watch House of Cards since spring break. Dawson explains, “Those are things we’re willing to give up, in order to see the changes that we want.”

Their biggest challenge: Obviously, the candidates are rowing upstream a bit here (sports pun intended). Not only do they have to promote their ideas and get students to vote — when less than 30 percent of the student body usually votes — they also have to get people to actually go to the effort of typing their names onto the ballot. In the process of gaining votes, they have another goal in mind: They hope they can increase the number of student voters, and make students more aware of SA as a resource. Dawson says, “Even if we get creamed in the election, I would still take something away from it if more than 20 percent of the student body votes.”

A dynamic duo: The pair says that the best dynamic duo to represent them is probably Beyoncé and Jay-Z, “because they kill it.” When asked which roles they fall into, both agreed that Dawson is the Beyoncé of the group.

Campaign theme song: "I Won’t Back Down" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Want more Abell and Dawson? Head to their Facebook page for some pics of them frolicking in the snow!

snow Photos courtesy of Hannah Wagner