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Zidouemba elected SA president in near record-low turnout election

Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor
Students elected senior Christian Zidouemba (left) as Student Association president and sophomore Yan Xu (right) as vice president.

Senior Christian Zidouemba won the Student Association presidential election, ending the campaign season victorious in his third bid for the SA’s top post.

Zidouemba, who will be the first graduate student to serve as SA president in at least the last 20 years, was elected in the first fully in-person election season since 2019, but registered voter turnout continued trending downward to a roughly 10-year low. After failing to snag the position in 2020 and 2021, Zidouemba ran his campaign on plans to address food insecurity issues on campus and work with the GW Alumni Association to increase donations and offer more scholarships.

Zidouemba clinched the presidency with nearly 51 percent of the total votes cast in the only round of ranked-choice voting against SA Sen. Dasia Bandy and sophomore Andrew An, who launched a last-minute write-in campaign Tuesday hours before polls opened.

Nicholas Anastacio | Graphics Editor

A total of 2,690 students voted in the election – the lowest number in any election during at least the past 10 years. About 10.4 percent of eligible students voted in the election, which continued a downward trend that roughly tied turnout levels in 2017, which had no presidential race at the time.

Through the ranked-choice voting system, the candidate with the lowest number of first-place votes is eliminated from the race, and the remaining candidates move on to the next rounds until a candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote.

With Zidouemba crossing the threshold in the first round, Bandy received 34.16 percent of the total vote, An received 8.78 percent and other write-in candidates received 6.08 percent of the vote.

Zidouemba said the University is in need of “great change” and he looks forward to working with students and other members of the GW community in his role.

“I do know that those who have put a trust on me and wanted me to win this election, I will not deceive you,” he said. “This is a campaign for the people and for all of us and the changes that need to be changed in our university will be made at a greater level.”

SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U and the chair of the SA Senate’s finance committee, was narrowly elected SA vice president in the sixth round of ranked choice voting with 50.18 percent of the vote. He ran on a platform to increase funding for student organizations and to urge the University to include more students in decision making.

Xu defeated SA Sen. Alfredo Granados, CCAS-U, who received 49.82 percent of the vote in the sixth and final round of ranked-choice voting, a difference of just nine raw votes.

Xu said he is grateful to the students who gave him support in his candidacy.

“I am looking forward to continuing my work on behalf of students in the coming year,” he said in an email.

About 83 percent of students backed a referendum that will update the SA Constitution to codify how students can approve or reject potential adjustments to the SA fee in a referendum and require the senate to adopt the budget for the upcoming fiscal year in March instead of May, when new senators take office.

Trip Johnson, the chair of the Joint Elections Commission, said the JEC will meet at a later date to certify the results of the election.

Bandy said she felt “relieved” after hearing the election results and doesn’t know if she’ll remain involved in the SA next year.

“I’m just happy and relieved that students are able to vote and students were able to let all student leaders across campus know what their passions are, their concerns and who they would like their next leader to be,” Bandy said.

An said he thinks Zidouemba’s election will serve as a “great” opportunity for graduate students to have a voice in the SA.

“From the interactions I’ve had with Christian, I empathized and felt his passion as an immigrant student at GW,” he said. “In many ways, we’re alike and a lot of his history truly resonated with me. I would love to see what type of proposals and policy initiatives Christian will put into place.”

Granados said he trusts that Xu will guide the SA to the best of his ability and advocate for the “best interest” of the GW community.

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