Student Association

James Franco’s party and Tyler Rossi’s somber wait at Skyhall: A rundown of SA election night

Moriah Ratner | Staff Photographer

Angie Pati, left, and James Franco, right, both sitting on the couch, will serve as vice president and president of Student Association's 61st legislative session, respectively.

Three words cut through the room: “I’m really sorry.”

Student Association presidential hopeful James Franco was talking on his cell phone with Janine Bogris, the chair of SA’s Board of Elections and Membership committee. Bogris’ voice was barely audible. Campaign staffers and friends exchanged nervous glances.

“My heart fell into my stomach,” said Tori Cedar, the campus outreach coordinator for Franco’s campaign.

Vice presidential candidate Angie Pati clutched her hands together. Grace Bobertz, a campaign advisor, stared at Franco, with a shocked look. Suddenly, the SA presidential candidate began to grin.

“Alrighty then, thank you,” Franco said and ended the call before nodding frantically. He was at a loss for words. He and Pati had just won SA’s 2017-18 presidential election.

About 20 of the pairs’ friends screamed in joy, some leaping into the air. Pati collapsed onto Franco’s shoulder, smiling. Jon Nunes and Sean Tierney, two of Franco’s friends — both juniors, an economics major and information technology and management major, respectively — grabbed each other, nearly knocking over a lamp while shouting “FRANCO.” Others began to cry out of excitement.

“(I’m feeling) incredible joy, incredible happiness. It’s going to be a pleasure to be working with one of my best friends next year,” Franco said after the result was announced around 12:15 a.m. on Friday.

In a later interview, Bogris said the BEM traditionally tends to “drag out” the phone call informing SA presidential election winners of their victory, officials saying something like “I’m sorry but you’re SA president.”

Friends — who had attended the pairs’ election night party at Bobertz and Cedar’s house on Livingston Avenue — mobbed both Franco and Pati. Bobertz is a junior political science and policy studies double major and Cedar is a psychology and communication sciences and disorders double major.

Franco, a junior political science major, and Pati, a junior neuroscience and psychology double major, defeated Martin J. Whitman School of Management students Tyler Rossi and Roy Tin to become president and vice president, respectively, for SA’s 61st legislative session. Franco has been involved in SA since his freshman year and was the 60th legislative session’s chair of academic affairs. Pati has not previously held a role in SA.

The exact number of votes each campaign received was not publicly announced by the BEM — unlike last year — out of respect for the candidates, Bogris said. About 17 percent of Syracuse University’s student body voted in the election, with 2,468 votes cast in total. Last year, 4,122 students voted.

Before the announcement, Rossi was aware that his campaign faced an uphill battle. Contrary to Franco, Rossi did not hold a party with supporters. He chose to spend election night quietly sitting on a gray sofa in a lounge on the third floor of Skyhall II, with his running mate beside him. Rossi described himself as an “underdog” and said if the media hadn’t contacted him, he would have been in bed.

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Jessica Sheldon | Staff Photographer

When he got his phone call, Rossi’s somber facial expression changed little. He leaned forward from the sofa, briefly tilted his head to the right and said, “That is fine, thank you,” after learning the results.

“Congrats to Angie and James. They earned it,” Rossi said. “We were ready for any results that came. … I feel like we did a good job, it was just that it wasn’t enough. SA would be in good hands.”

Franco and Rossi sparred during a presidential debate held earlier this month, clashing over the “sanctuary campus” issue and their respective vice presidential candidates.

“I think the first debate hurt us,” Rossi said in an interview before the result was announced Friday, adding that he lacked the preparation needed for the debate because he was sick at the time.

Reflecting on his comments regarding sanctuary campuses, Rossi said he takes responsibility for not communicating his thoughts well about the issue and admitted that he came off as aggressive. He added, though, that he remains skeptical of SU declaring itself a sanctuary campus, fearing a loss of federal funding.

After the election result was announced, Franco said he respects both Rossi and Tin and would love to sit down and talk with them about the ideas they campaigned on.

“If they would like to be involved with SA, we’d love to have that,” he said. “They’re impressive individuals, great leadership. … We’d love to have them be a part of SA next year.”

Rossi said he is “considering” joining SA next year, while Tin said he is not planning to take part in the organization.

The two campaigns had similar platforms. Both Franco and Rossi pledged to expand mental health treatment options for students on campus if elected; improve public safety both on and off-campus; and increase diversity and inclusion at SU.

Some of Franco’s key campaign goals were to create a peer listening service for students and establish a shuttle service to help students living off-campus near Euclid Avenue get home. Franco and Pati campaigned on the theme of “Proactivity > Reactivity,” after SA’s 60th legislative session became mired by issues throughout the spring semester.

SA failed to meet quorum multiple times for its regular Monday night Assembly meetings and current SA President Eric Evangelista was hit with sanctions in February after violating two sets of the organization’s bylaws and its constitution, in part for lying to university administrators.

Stopping by at Franco’s election party after the results were announced, Evangelista told The Daily Orange that he and Joyce LaLonde, SA’s current vice president, will work to ensure Franco and Pati’s transition to president and vice president goes smoothly and they are both “well aware” of their responsibilities and duties.

After the phone call with Bogris and as the reality began to sink in that they would lead SA next year, Franco and Pati hugged friends and thanked them for their support and laughed together. Excited chatter filled the house, replacing the music that had been blasting from a stereo earlier in the night as the party waited for the election’s result.

“We’re really representing everyone who we’re supposed to be representing,” Pati said. “(We’re) increasing the transparency and increasing the reliability of Student Association so people really do see why it’s so important.”

—Asst. News Editor Satoshi Sugiyama contributed reporting to this article.

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