Why I Ran: Looking back at Léonie Dupuis’ SGA campaign
By Morgan Givens
I started my conversation with Léonie Dupuis with a simple question: “Why did you run for SGA president?”
“I’ve been in student government since my freshman year at UWF,” Dupuis said. “And I was once asked, ‘Where do you see yourself in SGA in the future?’ and I responded, ‘I can see myself running for president.’”
Léonie Dupuis, who was one of the final remaining candidates for president after the general SGA election race, decided to withdraw her name from the ballot before a runoff election could take place. The decision was no doubt shocking, and it led to a very rare political situation and caused a lot of confusion from voters and those on the outside looking in.
During her time in SGA, Dupuis became greatly involved in the organization. Since she was awarded a scholarship to earn her education at UWF, she said she felt like she owed the school her time and involvement. During the presidential campaign, one of her strongest aspects was that she was one of the most, if not the most, involved candidates in the race.
Because she was as involved as she could possibly be.
Dupuis is a Canadian citizen, meaning that she has no vote here in the United States. SGA is her only legal representative, so lobbying for the organization reaches the limits of what she can do politically.
It was on the first day of the general election when Dupuis came to the realization that things would not get easier for her.
“In my mind, I told myself if I can get past election days, I’ll be fine,” Dupuis said. “But then we were told that there was going to be a runoff and that was all it took for me to tell myself that I don’t have time anymore.”
Time was Dupuis’ worst enemy. A, after meeting with her SGA advisor and calculating how much time it would take to do presidential duties, along with her studies as a biomedical sciences major, she quickly began to run into the negatives. There simply was not enough time to balance everything out.
As president, she would have to abide by a contract that explains how much time is spent doing official tasks, attending meetings, and other duties.
“After meeting with my advisor, the numbers really spoke to me,” Dupuis said. “I’m a numbers person and numbers simply don’t lie, and I would say that’s the time when I definitely made my mind up.”
If asked whether she would have done things differently in her campaign, Dupuis said she did not have many regrets other than running a more streamlined campaign and reaching out more from the very start. The only true regret she has is not about how her campaign was run, but how there should have been more time to think about what is more important: being president or her future.
“It just came down to SGA or my career,” Dupuis said. “And as much as SGA has done for me and my development as a student on campus, I came to UWF to go to medical school and that should have taken precedence over everything else.”
After taking several days to reflect, Dupuis said she is on the right track now for her future. In the summer, she plans to travel to Ireland after being awarded a research grant. During her time in the fall semester, she also plans to travel to several medical schools figure out where to further her education after her time at UWF.
When it came to being such an involved member of SGA, Dupuis linked it to her career path.
“I always compared SGA to being a physician,” Dupuis said. “When you’re a doctor, you’re put in this role where you advocate for all your patients and you’re supposed to act and lobby on their behalf and that’s where I saw the equivalency to SGA and the student body.”
For those considering running for SGA president in the future, Dupuis said that taking a look at her case would be a positive first step.
“I think that anyone who considers running for these roles needs to do what I did, but from the very start,” Dupuis said. “Take the time to sit with your advisors, both academic and professional, and see how the position would fulfill your long term goals.”
Now that Brandon Malone has officially won the election, Dupuis is intrigued to see the direction SGA will take under his leadership.
“Brandon has a lot to prove,” Dupuis said. “He knows how SGA works and he’s been in the environment, but I hope the learning curve doesn’t get in the way of him finishing projects. We had very viable candidates with their own passion projects and were all qualified in their own ways ,and I’ll be looking forward to seeing how things go on the outside looking in.”