New SBP Maxine Fileta discusses election experience, future goals
Financial District, NEW YORK--Dean of Students, David Leedy, announced Feb. 28 that Maxine Fileta ('15) won a runoff election against President of the House of Reagan, Jonny Lile ('15), to become the new Student Body President of The King’s College. The election drew an astounding 80 percent of the student body to cast their votes. Students used Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other forms of social media to promote their candidates during the election. Next Fileta, who serves as the current Director of Student Events, will be responsible for presiding over all meetings of The King’s Council and acting as the official student representative of The King’s College student body, according to Article III of the Constitution for The King's College.
Article III also states, "The Student Body President is responsible for setting the order of the agenda and distributing it to members of The King’s Council forty eight hours prior to official meetings." The Student Body President also acts as the head of the Executive Cabinet, which includes appointing Executive Cabinet officers and holding the veto power over items decided upon by The King’s Council.
Some key themes of Fileta's campaign included cultivating community, positive morale within the student body and improving the spiritual life at King’s, particularly after a string of difficult events in 2012-2013.
Fileta says that one reason the election was so impactful had to do with the fact that the school is growing again after a time of transition to Lower Manhattan from the Empire State Building, which has created diverse differences between each incoming class at King’s in recent years. The fact that the students are engaged in student government and elections is a positive sign.
“There has been this atmosphere of encouraging people to have an opinion. Because we just got to the point where we needed people to have an opinion," Fileta said. "We needed people to want to step up and cultivate community in different ways. That’s what made it [this election] so involved, because everybody at the school cares, which is awesome.”
Fileta sat down with the Tribune to talk about her election experience and her hopes for the present and future King's student body.
What were your thoughts before the announcement? “There was nothing going through my head. Because so much of my time three weeks prior to that was spent analyzing, critiquing, thinking, trying to pre-guess who was going to be in what position, especially with the run-off. It was very obvious that it was in the hands of the people. There was nothing we could have done. I offered everything I could.”
"My initial thought going into that was, ‘this is crazy.’ Because it was kind of obvious… I mean, I’m a business major, so I did the math in my head. There was no way there wouldn’t have been a run-off,” she said. “But I could confidently say that the most nerve-wracking moment was the night after I found out that I made it to the run-off, because at that point, I started seeing Lucinda’s vote split in half."
Although the election was, for the most part, a friendly competition, the student body did not quite grasp the concept of “friendly.” During the debate, students’ Twitter feeds filled up with “#POTKCdebate” live tweets. Most of them were lighthearted jokes aimed at the candidates, but others were sarcastic and cutting. What did you think about this?
"The mere fact that 80% of the student body engaged in this campaign–– that’s 80% of the student body that were involved and had an opinion. There is a slight air of cynicism that we as students possess toward people who take themselves seriously [politicians] ... I didn’t particularly like the tweeting...but at the same time, I couldn’t have expected anything less. There were just such influential candidates that were involved in this season of elections that it would be impossible to not make it personal… I think that some candidates were more offended than others, but at the end of the day, I’m confident that Johnny, Lucinda and I are friends, and support one another, and really do think each other would have done a great job. But I think that some of the spite that came through those tweets was just out of love and passion for the people that they were trying to support. I do think that it could be handled better in the future. I think that this theme of sarcasm and satire is something that can’t be avoided… But if you have to send out a tweet saying, ‘none of these were supposed to be offensive…,’ then you were probably saying or doing something that wasn’t right. It’s a lesson for everybody."
We’ve heard from several people that this election was different than any TKC has seen before. How is this election different?
“One, the candidates were exceptional in their given fields. I know that the people that I work very closely with have faith in me, and people who have been under the leadership of Lucinda and Johnny can strongly attest to their leadership skills because they have been exposed to that for the last year. I think that in years past, we had similar themes in terms of the candidates. But according to Dean Leedy, there have never been such influential candidates running for SBP."
Fileta suggested that high profile candidates and committed friends led both to the higher voter turnout and, possibly, social media friction.
How did the transitions in locations and leadership affect the student body?
“There was a natural disaster with the hurricane that put a lot of students in a drought. It took a toll on people. A lot of grades were affected, and when something hits you in the face within the first couple months of being a student, and the school’s already new to you, and new to everybody, nobody knows the answers… Even though D’Souza left, we were under such great leadership of the board… I think that it is kind of impossible to go from a really unfortunate time and not want to do everything in your power to change it… I think that’s a huge reason why this year went so well, is because there was every reason in the book to make everything the best it could be. And as somebody who was heavily involved in that, in terms of seeing the need and trying to cultivate something that can help respond to it, that’s why I was running for SBP. Because I know you can’t just stop. You need to work even harder to keep it [positive morale] sustainable for the years to come, so we can prevent something like that in the future.”