Joshua Mannery knew he wanted to be the Associated Student Body president since the moment he stepped foot on the University of Mississippi campus, and on Tuesday evening, he succeeded. With a voter turnout of 3,130 students, Mannery won 54% of the student vote in the first campus election to be held entirely online.
Any other year, roars of celebration from the winning campaign would follow the announcement, and Mannery would have rushed to Business Row to paint “Joshua Mannery IS ASB President” on his campaign sign. Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, shelter-in-place orders across the nation and the university’s choice to shift school-associated activities online through the end of the summer, election night played out differently.
“I found out that I won a couple of seconds after everybody else because apparently I had a delay, so it’s funny watching my reaction in the video because everybody else knew, and it took me a couple of seconds to realize, but when I did, it was just a lot of joy,” Mannery said.
Mannery and his family watched the ASB announcement live on Facebook from their living room in Jackson, and his campaign of about 100 students held a “Zoom watch party” on the video conference platform.
After hugging his parents, Mannery retreated to his room and called Carl Tart, the university’s first Homecoming King who was elected last fall, and then Leah Davis, a senior psychology major who ran for ASB president last spring.
“People like them — African American student leaders here on campus — have really helped me out because as a student of color running for a position like this, it can be pretty intimidating,” Mannery said. “You know, you have to try a little bit harder than the next person, so just having them helping me out and supporting me has been phenomenal.”
Tart, a senior allied health studies major, said he hopes that students like himself and Mannery can be examples of black students succeeding on the University of Mississippi campus.
“We go into these elections not expecting to hear our names on the other end,” he said. “For myself and for Josh to accomplish these things, it really kind of changes the narrative for how African American students will continue to go into these elections. I’m pretty sure that there will be less people feeling like they won’t win, but more of a ‘As long as I put in the work, I will win.’”
Mannery is now the sixth African American student to become ASB president at the university.
His campaign platform and his plan for the coming year revolve around strengthening student engagement with student government, building upon ASB partnerships with different areas of campus such as athletics and increasing collaboration across the different branches of ASB. Specific changes that he hopes to implement in order to achieve these goals are hosting lunches with students, parking amnesty days and simplifying the ASB Code and Constitution.
Along with his hope for collaboration across ASB, Mannery said he wants to build a strong relationship with the newly elected Vice President Abby Johnston, a junior public policy leadership major who ran unopposed in this year’s election. Johnston said she is looking forward to working with Mannery in leading student government.
“We really want to meet students where they are, as opposed to having ASB just be really blocked off to students,” she said. “That is our common ground, and I am so excited that we have that and that we both share that.”
Mannery and Johnston will step into their student government executive officer positions for the 2020-21 school year with Secretary Katelin Hayward, Treasurer Gianna Schuetz, Attorney General Jake Fanning and Judicial Chair Gabby Hunter.
“I want to invite as many voices to the table as possible, but also, I want those voices to feel comfortable. I don’t want to just hand out opportunities and positions for the sake of it. I want to make sure we are really being as inclusive and diverse in thought as possible,” Mannery said. “I want you all to hold me accountable.”