After a week of frenzied campaigning that saw slogans plastered across campus and lengthy debates between the two candidates and their supporters, Tufts Community Union (TCU) Vice President Wyatt Cadley’s “Think Big” platform propelled him to victory over Senator Logan Cotton, a junior, in yesterday’s TCU presidential election.
Minutes after receiving the news of his victory while surrounded by his campaign staff, Cadley, also a junior, said that he was honored to have the confidence of the student body.
“I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – this has been a campaign about ideas, and more so than anything else. I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to try to put these ideas into action,” Cadley said following the announcement. “Running for president is a very humbling experience.”
The turnout of 2,574 undergraduates (49.79 percent of the student body) was nearly 1,000 votes greater than last year’s turnout. Cadley won with 60 percent (1,494 votes) of the total, while Cotton received 40 percent (1,013 votes). Sixty-seven students abstained.
Cadley’s campaign platform focused on the quality of student life at Tufts and on unifying the campus into a single community – in his words, “One Tufts.” His campaign slogan, “Think Big,” alluded to his platform, which included a spontaneous activity-packed day off called “Jumbo Day,” a re-evaluation of the Resident Assistant system and a student bill of academic rights.
“I think when people looked at my platform, they saw problems that they faced every day,” Cadley said. “Whether it was the lack of school spirit that we talk so much about, or whether it was academic inconveniences or academic limitations and not being able to pursue your own interests to the best of your ability, I think that really resonated with people.
“‘Think Big’ wasn’t just a slogan, it was a call to action for the community, and I think that’s what people got,” he added. “People want to feel like they’re heard, and they want to know that someone’s listening, and I think we showed that we’re a team that is going to listen and continue listening moving into the future.”
Cadley enters his position with three years of Senate experience, having served as a senator since September of his freshman year. He has also worked as Allocations Board chair, representative to two student-faculty committees and co-chair of the Senate’s Services Committee and task force on alcohol and other drugs, along with his vice presidency this year.
Cadley credited his website, which was designed by Senator Mike Vastola; a YouTube video created by sophomore Pike Hughes; and his campaign manager, sophomore Kara Lillehaug, with strengthening and inspiring his campaign.
“I’m enthusiastic, and that’s an understatement,” Lillehaug said. “I think he totally deserves it, and I think we worked really hard, and I’m just thrilled with the results. I think we did a great job just really letting people know who he was through the stickers [and] the postcards which had a lot of information and let people be really informed. … Wyatt did a great job. I think he’s very personable, very friendly, always willing to take people’s questions and always willing to answer.”
Cotton’s platform focused on reforming the culture of the Senate and addressing issues of discrimination on campus. He and his campaign team encouraged students to “GoLoCo.”
Cotton said he will continue to serve as a senator next year in addition to taking on leadership roles in other student groups.
“I feel like the traditional trajectory is someone runs, doesn’t get it and runs for [vice president.] I’m not trying to pad a resume,” Cotton said. “I can pursue the activist leadership role the way I promised to do as TCU president.”
Cotton noted that he and Cadley had an amicable relationship throughout the campaign and frequently communicated with each other.
“Wyatt and I communicated to make sure there was no animosity between us,” he said. “Wyatt and I have two different approaches on how to lead a student body. When you recognize that, it’s a sobering reminder it’s a difference of opinion. … I’m glad that [we] were able to remain steadfast friends throughout the process and I think Tufts and Tufts’political engagement is stronger for it.”
Cadley said that he is looking forward to working with Cotton on the Senate next year.
“Logan ran a great campaign and I’ve gained an incredible amount of respect for him, for the work he’s done and the passion that he’s excited in this community, and I really genuinely look forward to working with him in the future,” he said.
The total turnout in this election was significantly higher than last year’s presidential election, when 31 percent of the student body voted and elected TCU President Tomas Garcia. Garcia won with 78 percent of the vote.
“I think it’s very telling that we got turnout to jump very high given where it was last year, and it was because both sides were able to turn out a lot of people and inspire a lot of people,” Cadley said.
Cadley encouraged students to “keep thinking big.”
“Even though the campaign is over, it doesn’t mean people should stop thinking critically about this university,” he said. “It was a call to action, and it remains a call to action. There are so many ways people can be agents of change on this campus, so I think that’s one of the really key lessons that we learned from this election, and that sort of general mantra and spirit is something that needs to continue moving into the future.”
– Brionna Jimerson and Melissa Wang contributed reporting to this article.