McCormick freshmen win ASG election though write-in votes


Graphic by Carly Schulman

Peter Podobinski and Zai Dawodu. The two won ASG Senate seats through write-in votes.

Alex Perry, Reporter

Once posts for Associated Student Government Senate races flooded her social media, McCormick freshman Zai Dawodu thought it was too late to campaign.

The deadline to submit a petition with 10 undergraduate student signatures had passed, meaning that it was impossible for her to appear on the official ballot. But a few days before voting closed, her friend Peter Podobinski, another McCormick freshman, found out that write-in voting was an option. Furthermore, there was only one sophomore on the ballot and they had not heard about any other freshmen campaigning as a write-in candidate.

They won their respective elections, securing two of the three Senate seats allotted to McCormick students. The two attribute their success to two factors: prior experience in student government and already having established connections within the freshmen class.

Dawodu and Podobinski agreed to run as write-in candidates and started posting their candidacy announcements on GroupMe and Instagram, asking McCormick freshmen to write in one of their names on the ballot.

Dawodu, who was student council president her senior year of high school, spent this summer getting excited to represent freshmen in ASG. She said she checked her email constantly to find updates on how to run. With an online introduction to college, she found campaign information hard to access.

“I didn’t know about it until all these Weinberg kids were posting,” Dawodu said. “I was confused because I kept on checking my email.”

Once she decided to run as a write-in candidate, she compiled a platform of issues she felt were priorities, including a Pass/No Pass initiative, mental health resources and more frequent town halls to promote student dialogue. Knowing that the recent protests were on students’ minds, Dawodu conducted a series of polls to gauge freshmen opinions that she could bring to community dialogues and ASG meetings.

Podobinski, who also had experience in student government in high school, wanted to run to represent FGLI students, particularly those struggling with the transition to college during a remote quarter. His interest was piqued when he saw ASG campaign flyers, so once he heard there was an opportunity to win through write-in, he jumped at the chance.

“I’ve especially been looking at Pass/(No Pass) recently,” Podobinski said. “Hearing all these testimonials really pushed me to be a bigger part of it.”

Podobinski was also concerned about the lack of freshmen representation in ASG, especially among McCormick students — something he decided to highlight during his campaign.

McCormick freshman Hajra Malik, who met Podobinski during NU’s Summer Academic Workshops, found out about his last-minute campaign through Snapchat. According to her, Podobinski made the extra effort to connect with other SAW freshmen beyond the one-on-one conversations that happened in breakout rooms.

“I was really unfamiliar with everyone but he was really open to talking,” Malik said. “He seemed genuinely very good at making connections.”

Malik added that she supported his campaign because of Podobinski’s sociability and “his initiative to get to know people.”

Both Dawodu and Podobinski were active in freshmen group chats leading up to the election and highlight their connections as something both motivated them to run and also best represent McCormick freshmen in ASG.

“I’ve always thought of myself as someone who can relate to others, see where they’re coming from and show a sense of empathy,” Podobinski said.

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