Last Thursday Jan. 27, Drew Johnson ’14 was elected the President of the Denison Community Governance Association (DCGA) in a special election. Johnson will serve only a single semester, concluding his term this May when classes end. The special election appeared on the heels of the year-long presidency of Hannah Frank ’13, who left office this winter over scandal related to party registration and the formation Ad Hoc Committee. In an open letter to The Denisonian (Dec. 4, 2012 issue, p. 5), Frank resigned, saying that her work as DCGA president had been to a “detriment” to her “academic and personal success.” Acknowledging that some elements of the student body may have been dissatisfied with her pursuance of party registration, Frank underscored her philosophy of “doing the right thing…rather than the popular one.”
Johnson and Frank have faced off before in the autumn 2012 election, which Frank won. Johnson’s opposition in last Thursday’s race was Callie McKeon ’13, a political science major from Harrisburg, Pa. McKeon’s primary leadership has been as president of Denison’s National Panhellenic Conference and as a sister of Kappa Alpha Theta. Johnson, a Spanish and communications double major, studio art minor from the Twin Cities area, has served as a class of 2014 Senator on DCGA since his freshman year, has served as Co-Governor of that class, and has represented the student body on several channels of the school’s administration including the Denison Student Athlete Advisory Council, the Committee on Recreational and Intercollegiate Athletics, the Campus Affairs Council, the Dining Committee, and DCGA’s Finance, Policy, and Project’s Committees. He also plays fullback for Big Red’s varsity football squad, DJ’s at WDUB, tutors Spanish, and works as a tour guide at Admissions.
Johnson’s primary goal for his term is the implementation of the party registration system. “The biggest thing for me is where we are as a university right now…especially social-culture-wise,” he says. “We are in the midst of some big changes.” He describes his choice to run – after a defeat one year ago – as “stepping up the plate,” emphasizing his desire to see Frank’s term concluded in an existential sense. Johnson began on DCGA under Rob Moore ’12, and worked with Frank on developing party registration throughout her consecutive terms on DCGA, including under her presidency.
Johnson affirms his belief that party registration “in the long run, will be good.” Johnson is further interested in the social development of Denison’s student body in the holistic sense, and to this end, he describes event registration as only the first step. He understands the need for social gatherings to move beyond “confined spaces with shut doors,” which he sees as creating an exhausted culture of overconsumption that he stresses is as apparent to the outside world as it is to the student body. For the university to “evolve,” however, he sees a different future that expands beyond senior apartment spaces to include “common spaces within resident[ial] halls.” Johnson stresses one of his main goals as president will be to develop on this idea, create alternative social space, and move beyond “dangerous” party spaces by founding a committee to explore these long-term goals.
Other problems Johnson wishes to tackle are the lack of debate within DCGA and voter apathy in DCGA elections. When asked whether he would be pursuing the presidency again in April, he declined to comment, underlining the fact that how he deals with conditions in the upcoming months will influence any such decision. Johnson stresses that “experience coupled with the time that Denison is in right now” was the main background dynamic in Thursday’s election, and that while McKeon offered the alternative of a DCGA ‘outsider,’ Johnson’s ethos of the experienced insider, as evinced by results, was preferred by the electorate this time around.
According to Johnson, voter turnout was at 37 percent for this election, up from less than 20 percent two semesters ago, when Frank ran unopposed. McKeon was unable to provide timely comment. According to data provided by Elections Chair Nicole Casey, Johnson received 73 percent of the vote with 563 votes, while McKeon received 24 percent of the vote with 188 votes. There were 20 write-ins at three percent.