Winterlin, O’Brien elected next USG president, vice president

Mitch Winterlin and Carly O’Brien will serve in the top two executive positions of the UI’s Undergraduate Student Government during the 2023-24 academic year.


Matt Sindt

Candidates Carly O’Brien and Mitch Winterlin speak during a University Student Government debate in the Iowa Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union on March 26, 2023.

Archie Wagner and Kate Perez

After winning by a competitive margin, Mitch Winterlin and Carly O’Brien will serve as the University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government’s president and vice president during the 2023-24 academic year.

The pair won 51 percent of the vote against Vera Barkosky, who served as the 2022-23 vice president, and Robert Jepsen, who served as the 2022-23 director of finance.

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Winterlin said the win was not expected, but he was encouraged by the results.

“I think we’ve had a lot of people come up to us being like, ‘You’ve got this, we believe in you,’ so many people are rallying behind you,” Winterlin said. “But I mean for Carly and I, we weren’t ever trying to say this is for sure a win … to see that the majority of campus really wants to see our mission and our plan I think just makes me more thrilled and excited more than anything else.”

Winterlin and O’Brien are both third-year students at the UI and previously participated in the Undergraduate Student Government. Winterlin served as the director of student services and O’Brien served as the director of operations in the 2022-23 UI Undergraduate Student Government Administration.

The undergraduate student participation in this year’s election was higher than in previous years, with 1,570 voters. The 2021 election had 475 students votes, and 699 students voted in the 2022 election.

Voter turnout and the winners of the 2023 election were announced by UI undergraduate student government election commissioners Alivia Rosendahl and Boris Miller.

These results were announced at a meeting Friday afternoon in the Iowa Memorial Union after three days of voting. Voting began for undergraduates on March 27 and ended on March 29.

Moving forward, the pair has four areas of their campaign they plan to focus on: mental health, outreach, revitalization, and equity. O’Brien said the two plan on hosting weekly office hours to connect with more people across campus while also promoting mental health initiatives.

“Something that both Mitch and I hold really dear to our hearts is the mental health. We started Paws At Iowa, which is a therapy dog club on campus that just helps bring more human-animal interaction to students on campus more regularly and more frequently,” O’Brien said. “We really want to kind of bring those values and goals into the next couple years.”

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Winterlin added that the goals of revitalization and equity center around making USG more accessible, including increasing financial transparency and amplifying the voices of students from underrepresented minorities on campus through meeting with the groups.

“Mainly just kind of looking at how we have consistent meetings, maybe semesterly or bi-semesterly. Meetings … really in those spaces, making sure that we’re setting aside time for what’s our action plan and what are we actually doing, and not just having a conversation,” Winterlin said. “Because conversation is really important, but that’s the first step in making change.”

O’Brien and Winterlin said they plan to work on USG initiatives over the summer and are excited by how many people have believed in them throughout the past two weeks and want to see them succeed this upcoming year.

“Throughout all the craziness and chaos, I felt so much love and so much gratitude and passion from so many people, and that just makes me filled with so much joy and so, so much excitement for this because not only are we excited and passionate about this, but I feel like so many people around us are here to support us every step of the way,” Winterlin said.

With so many people supporting them, O’Brien said they will be constantly held accountable.

“The best kind of friends and peers will always kind of call you out, you know, if you’re not making things happen or if they just see issues,” O’Brien said. “So, I think, like Mitch said, that’ll really hold us accountable, which I’m excited for because Mitch and I have a lot of drive and passion, but just in case, you know, that’s a great little backup plan.”

Both senators-at-large and constituency senators were elected and announced at the meeting. Constituency senators sit on the Justice and Equity Committee and serve with the purpose of advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to represent the needs of the student group they represent.

Of the 32 senators-at-large elected, seven were new and 24 were returning senators.

Constituency senators were also elected, representing a multitude of student groups:

  • Amiritha Kumar as the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American constituency senator
  • Maria Eduarda Rodrigues Leite as the International Student constituency senator
  • Willie Zheng as the First Generation constituency senator
  • Estella Ruhrer Johnson as the LGBTQIA+ constituency senator
  • Natalie Kehrli as the Disability constituency senator
  • Cielo Herrera as the Latine constituency senator