On a typical night, you won’t find Teddy Saull at a party or a rowdy get-together. He prefers a quiet night in with some ice cream and a few episodes of whatever TV show he’s watching at the time. But on Thursday, Jan. 30 he and a crowd of friends and supporters took to Snooty Fox for a night of celebration.
After three days of voting, and more than 8,300 votes cast, Saull emerged as the victor of a two-week race for next year’s MSU President, defeating early favourite Jacob Brodka by only 102 votes in the final round of voting.
Before mid-September 2013 Saull hadn’t thought much about involvement in MSU politics; he was just an average, self-described nerd.
“I was a very late bloomer. I’m quite tall now. I was very short until the summer between Grade 11 and Grade 12,” said Saull of his high school days.
He continued “I had a buzzcut, braces, weighed about a hundred pounds and was about five foot two. And I liked science and math—not the most appealing combination.”
Saull grew up in Ajax—living in the same house for his whole life—as the third in a series of four brothers. His mom is an educational assistant with special needs children and his dad is a business owner in the fasteners industry.
In elementary school, Saull loved to learn and had a particular desire to study science and math, but also enjoyed English. He grew up thinking he would become a medical doctor.
He delved into athletics as well.
“I was part of the all the sports teams in elementary school, when they weren’t as competitive, and then in high school there was no way,” he said.
Despite the drop off in sports participation, high school was still a time of involvement for Saull.
“I did pretty much everything…I was in a lot of clubs: Social Justice Club, I was President of Student Council,” he said. “I was a nerd, it is what it is.”
“I think I even got a few carry-over votes from high school,” he said of this year’s MSU Presidential race.
“When I was campaigning, I talked to someone and they said ‘Yeah, you were President when I was in grade nine, so I already voted for you’.”
For university, it came down to McMaster life sciences or Western health sciences, still wanting to be a doctor, but after a tour of the campus, McMaster was secured as his first choice.
“Western seemed fun, but McMaster felt like home, right away. It even had that Hogwarts feel that you can’t replicate,” he said.
He moved into Edwards Hall in September of 2010 and began his life at McMaster.
After a year of life sciences and some time of reflection, Saull decided to switch to the psychology, neuroscience and behavior program.
“I realized that I loved psych, once I was in it. I was very lucky to find what I’m interested in. I am fascinated by the human mind,” he said.
Saull stayed on campus as a Community Advisor in Hedden, and then Bates, before moving off campus for fourth-year.
“I wanted to belong to something. First year was tough—I think it is for most people—I thought I could create an environment that would make people comfortable,” said Saull,
“You get to see people grow. You see people come in as their nervous, shy person, or the super-outgoing person and you watch them evolve into the person that they become.”
Journey to MSU President
Sept. 2013 is when Saull decided he might make a good MSU President. His team worked throughout the year to construct a platform that could improve student life and a campaign that could convince them of its merits.
Coming from outside of the MSU was a challenge that the team knew could be a deterrent to winning the election.
“It was close. The success for us was that it was close—even if we had lost by a hundred votes, that would have been a success because of where we were coming from,” he said.
“Nobody expected that we would have a strong campaign because it was so clear that we did not have an overwhelming amount of MSU experience.”
“I was very thrown off, personally at times, at all of the negativity,” he said. “I had never been a part of politics before, except for watching The Ides of March.”
His campaign attempted to use this lack of experience as an advantage.
“Not having that experience means that you can come at things as a student, and as a learner. Then you can provide insight where you think it’s best. People respond well to that,” he said.
When voting begun on Jan. 28, Saull and his team were unsure if his message had connected with enough voters to win. By the time the polls were closing on Jan 30, the doubts were even stronger.
“I genuinely had no idea. I had a feeling on Thursday night [Jan.30] that we had lost, but there was no way to tell,” said Saull.
“I had no idea if we were winning, or if we were in dead last.”
When all the votes were tallied, Saull had emerged the victor.
He was sitting at home, trying to catch up on homework and preparing a Facebook post to address what he thought would be an election loss, when his phone rang with a call coming from current MSU President David Campbell.
Campbell informed him that he had won and Saull joined his team to celebrate.
“The transition really starts now. I’ll start working with the Board [of Directors] and getting to know the role and preparing to start in the summer,” said Saull.
Barring any successful appeals from other candidates, Teddy Saull’s term as MSU President will begin on May 1.
“I will say this: I will not run for elected office ever again,” said Saull.