After more than 36 hours of tallying votes and considering candidate violations, Student Government Association officials declared Al Carroll to serve as SGA president for the next academic year.
The sophomore from Titusville, Fla., was nervous when he received a phone call from current SGA president Chris Ring last Wednesday, just before 4 p.m.
“He was trying to make it funny,” Carroll said. “I was just not in the joking mood, so it made me even more nervous.”
After he found out, Carroll had to wait 30 minutes before he could actually tell anyone since SGA wanted to officially make the announcement during Wednesday’s assembly at 4:30 p.m.
“I kept thinking that it was going to be hard to not talk about it,” Carroll said. “How do I get from here to assembly without telling anybody? Every person that I saw was asking about it.”
After the announcement was made in assembly, Carroll started sending the message around to his parents, girlfriend and campaign manager before letting his other supporters know through Facebook and Twitter.
Carroll said that while it was his name on the ballot, the votes were for the student body and the university.
“This whole time, all the pronouns I’ve been using have been ‘we,’” Carroll said. “I didn’t win the election. We did. We got it.”
The wait to find out the results, Carroll said, was excruciatingly long.
“It was miserable,” he said. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever dealt with.
“You can’t really describe it.”
Advice and encouragement from his parents and girlfriend made the wait bearable.
“You’re doing these big things, but that shouldn’t define who you are,” Carroll’s mother, Glenda, told him Monday. “This just shows you that you have this large following of people that love you regardless of the final result.”
Twenty-seven percent of Butler University’s student body voted in Monday’s election, down 6 percent from last year’s turn out.
In the 12 hours the polls were open, 1,076 votes were cast. To give some perspective on that number, there were 1,067 in this year’s freshman class.
Carroll attributes the low turnout to a lack of promotion and communication.
“There are more people that vote for Homecoming King and Queen than for SGA President,” Carroll said. “That’s not the way it should be at all.”
He suggested looking into ways to fix the problem for elections in the future by leaving polls open or making the voting more accessible for students.
Looking forward, Carroll said he’s not done talking to people and getting to know the students and faculty on campus.
“It’s not a campaign anymore, it’s time for actions,” Carroll said. “You can’t change anything if you don’t know about it, so I want to keep the conversations going and find what people are talking about.”
Carroll said he doesn’t expect this title or victory to change him.
“I’m going to have to up my wardrobe and keep my hair cut, but this is not a defining moment by any means,” Carroll said. “There have been moments that have changed and morphed me into the person I am today, but this isn’t about me.
“This doesn’t change me. I’m the one that wants to make the changes.”