Divya Jakatdar, Michelle Lu win USG presidential election

two women pose standing
Divya Jakatdar and Michelle Lu ran their campaign with the slogan: “We will ACT. ACT for You, ACT for SC” — ACT being an acronym for “Accessibility and Affordability, Community and Transparency.” Overall voter turnout was 7.7% lower than last year. (Tomoki Chien | Daily Trojan)

Divya Jakatdar and Michelle Lu will be the 2023-24 Undergraduate Student Government president and vice president. At Tuesday night’s Senate meeting, the chair of the elections commission Omar Habhab announced the results of the 2023-24 USG election. Of the 4,105 votes cast by Trojans during this election, Jakatdar and Lu received 1,565 votes, 38.12% of the total.

Jakatdar and Lu ran their campaign with the slogan “We will ACT. ACT for You, ACT for SC” — ACT being an acronym for “Accessibility and Affordability, Community and Transparency.”

“We have a lot of short-term and long-term goals,” Lu said in an interview with the Daily Trojan after the meeting Tuesday. “Before putting everything on [our campaign], we definitely had conversations about every single point that we had on our platform. So now we just want to see what we can do short term and push them all out immediately and what we can do long term.”

With Jakatdar and Lu’s victory, this is the third consecutive year USG will have women as president and vice president, following Hannah Woodworth and Nivea Krishnan this past year and Alexis Areias and Lucy Warren in 2021-22. Overall voter turnout was 7.7% lower than last year, when 4,451 votes were cast in the 2022-2023 USG election — with 2,453 going to the Woodworth-Krishnan ticket.

“They all really made us feel like this is something that we could do,” Jakatdar said. “And I think it’s definitely true that seeing people similar to you in some way makes you believe that you can do something. But I think it also makes us feel good about how we’re gonna be able to reshape the culture in the office.”

Emilia Bletsas, McKayla Dorantes, Isabella Padilla, Julianna Melendez, Rudra Saigal, Bryan Fernandez, Brandon Tavakoli, Jake Zober, Halle Schaffer, Andrea Velazquez, AnnaOliva Schwedt and Matthew Speier were also announced as the senators-elect for the 2023-24 school year.

“It was a very nerve-wracking process,” Jakatdar said. “I think it’s been a very intense month … So many props to everyone who was a part of this, those who ran, who turned out to vote, but especially the candidates, every single candidate worked so hard. We’re honored … [and] also feeling very grateful with how many votes we received but honestly, just the fact that that many people voted, in general, was just the most inspiring thing.”

Prior to the announcement, chief financial officer Brian Stowe summarized the budget reallocation process from the last month. Three hundred and sixty organizations applied for funding this year, Stowe said.

During the process, the committee reallocated $42,000 from the Philanthropy Fund to three other funds. They gave $7,000 to the Performing and Visual Arts Fund, $7,000 to the Professional and Academic Research Funds and $28,000 to the Social & Recreation and Startup Funds.

Additionally, the committee will reallocate $4,000 from the Political Student Assembly, $6,000 from the Service Student Assembly, $6,000 from the Special Events Committee, $2,000 from the Transfer Student Assembly and $2,000 from the Student Assembly for Accessibility. From the funds, $10,000 each will be allocated to the Middle Eastern and North African Student Assembly and the Joint Assembly for Military-Associated Students.

Chief programming officer Jillian Fallon announced the nomination of Hailey Pham, a freshman majoring in political science, to be the Political Student Assembly assistant director, and speaker of the Senate Alvaro Flores announced the appointment of Tyler Fischer, a freshman majoring in economics, as the academic affairs chair.

Chief of staff Diego Andrades said he is in the process of finalizing cabinet guidelines and memos for the next USG administration to make a detailed transition.

“We are very much going to prioritize bringing in students who are passionate about those same core values and what projects fall in line with them,” Jakatdar said. “I really think that one of the … driving forces for getting anything done in USC is having people who care, so that’s gonna be a big part of the execution.”