Editor's note: This story has been changed from its original format.
This year’s Graduate Student Senate election is the first contested election for the presidency in a few years.
Incumbent President Tracy Kelly will be running against graduate student John Calhoun, Student Senate’s University Life commissioner. Both candidates come from local towns; Kelly, who is running with the Proud party, lives in Lancaster, while Calhoun, who is running with the hOUr party, resides in Athens.
Kelly, who has a Masters in political science and is about to start her Masters in public administration, said that her party’s platform will include minimizing budget cuts, emphasizing campus safety and working on more affordable health care.
Molly Yanity, Graduate Student Senate’s vice president for communications, said that her time working with Kelly has been very beneficial to not only her, but also OU as a whole.
“I started working with Tracy last year when I learned that OU wasn’t following through with its policy on educational benefits for (graduate assistants’) domestic partners,” she said. “I was amazed at her openness to my concern and her willingness to take it up. Ultimately, she made a difference.”
Calhoun will be working toward a Masters in sociology when he enters the graduate program next year. His party’s platform includes an increase in graduate student programming, an increase in stipends and budget transparency.
“John is one of the hardest working guys in Senate right now,” said Matt Beddingfield, Student Senate vice president, “He is a guy where if he has an idea that he knows is possible, he is going to work pretty hard to get it done, and I think that is something that the graduate students would appreciate.”
Calhoun said he wants graduate students to become involved in elections and see what both parties have to offer.
“In my mind, the most important thing is that graduate students get involved and know all of their choices,” he said. “Regardless of their feelings about which party, I just hope that they vote."
Kelly said one of the biggest advantages her party has over the competition includes experience.
“They have put in a good amount of work with their platform — I definitely respect them,” she said. “Some of the members of the other ticket are actually currently undergraduate students who are going into graduate programs. Not that that is bad, but I think that our ticket, generally speaking, has had more experience.”