Last Monday night, several students were two hours late to and missed a mandatory meeting for students interested in running for positions in the Students’ Association Senate.
Due to a clause in the senate bylaws, eight of those students were not permitted to be on the ballot for next week’s election. Only one student was added to the ballot.
Freshman Ilana Kaplan-Shain was one of the students who was not permitted to be added to the ballot as an official candidate. “I’ve been planning to run for senate since first semester,” she said. “I found out on Monday that that was the last day to run.”
Another senate hopeful, freshman Anna Czapla, agreed. “When I found out about it, it was already the last day to sign up, since there were no advertisements whatsoever,” she said.
Kaplan-Shain and the other students who were not allowed on the ballot, all of whom are members of the Debate Union, described arriving at the Ruth Merrill center several hours after the mandatory meeting for candidates had ended.
“Eventually, [junior] Lonny Mallach showed up, we started asking questions. He was very helpful,” she said. “We filled out applications and put them in [junior and elections committee chair Santo Marciano’s] book.
“We got an email from Santo the next morning saying we wouldn’t be allowed to run. We e-mailed [senior and All-Campus Judicial Council chief justice Ryan Walters] to determine how to proceed.”
“I feel cheated and disillusioned from the system,” Czapla said. “This is a perfect example of how [senate is] discouraging people from student government.”
“I really wanted to run for senate before because I thought it would be beneficial for me and that I could make a change,” Kaplan-Shain said. “Now I feel like I have to. My main goal is to be on the elections committee.”
According to the SA bylaws, “nominations must be in writing and must be presented at or before the official candidates’ meeting.”
“These nine individuals showed up in the Ruth Merrill center after the organizational meeting,” junior, off-campus senator and member of the elections committee Ashley Connor said. “None of them had contacted Santo or any other member of the elections committee.
“In order to be fair to the candidates, we must stick to the rules. These people as a group apparently are attempting to collude to defraud the election.”
“They didn’t tell anyone. They didn’t let me know. They just showed up at the Ruth Merrill center expecting someone to be there,” Marciano said.
“Lonny Mallach’s actions were in no way authorized by the elections committee,” Connor added.
One student who was late to the mandatory meeting was added to the ballot. According to the elections committee, junior Rajen Subramanian was allowed on the ballot because he had expressed prior intent to run for a seat in an e-mail to senate speaker and senior Bronwen Van Hooft.
“Because Rajen had made that contact, he was allowed to run,” Connor said.
Czapla disagreed with the committee’s decision to add only Subramanian to the ballot. “Rajen did the exact same thing we did,” she said.
“I don’t see their logic,” Marciano said, “showing up an hour and a half after the meeting and expecting somebody to be there. If they wanted to run, they should have e-mailed me to say, ‘I’m sorry it’s late, but I still want to run.”
The students who were not allowed on the ballot have appealed the election committee’s decision to ACJC.
Walters responded to two of the students’ complaints via e-mail. The first, that senate’s bylaws on the matter of election deadlines are unclear, was rejected by Walters as being without merit.
The second complaint, that the senate failed to meet the requirement in its bylaws to adequately advertise for elections, could be accepted for an ACJC hearing if the students can provide evidence to substantiate their claim, Walters said.
“I just assumed that there would be fliers about it,” Kaplan-Shain said. “Posted in the Ruth Merrill center was the first poster I saw.”
“They basically broke their own bylaws. They are senate – they can break their bylaws. We are outsiders, so we can’t,” Czapla added.
Connor disagreed that senate had failed to advertise the elections. “It was advertised in the Hive, in the SA newsletter, and the Buzz. I personally hung posters,” she said.
“It will be interesting to see how they try to prove that our advertising was poor,” Marciano said.
Walters is confident that even if a hearing occurs, the election will still proceed as scheduled. “I cannot conceive of any reason we’d need to postpone the election,” he said.
If the students are not added to the official ballot, they will still be able to be elected by write-in vote.
“When you fail to meet the statutory requirements for an election, your only recourse is to go outside the system, and that’s a write-in campaign,” Connor said.
“Write-in campaigns are fully legitimate. If they want to run a write-in campaign, more power to them.”
Connor is optimistic about this semester’s election. “I’m very excited. It’s a very large race – we have a ton of candidates running for the at-large positions. There are no empty slots,” she said.
In addition to the candidates for SA president, seniors Lonny Mallach and Adam Simmons and junior Matt Strabone, there are 15 officially recognized candidates running for various positions in the senate.
Eric Dubowsky and Jessie Maglietto are both running for Class of 2003 senator. Four students – Lucas McCarthy, Peter Ordal, Subramanien and Ruthie Varkovitzky – are competing for Class of 2004 senator. Peter Francis, Evan Kaderbeck and Mubarek Said are running for the Class of 2005 seat.
Five candidates are competing for the four At-Large senatorial seats – freshman Tyler Ballew, sophomore J.R. Santana Carter, freshman Justin Centi, sophomore Jeff Lennox and freshmen Sona Simran Kaur Rai and Jack Voorhees.
“I’m hoping we can match or improve the turnout of last year,” Connor said. “We’re hoping 25 percent of the student body will vote.”
Connor also said that “unofficial scuttlebutt” indicated that potential candidates for SA speaker included herself and current SA president and senior John LaBoda.
Voting will occur during several days still to be determined next week.
To vote, a student must log in to their mail account and type vote at the mail% prompt, and follow the instructions. An option will be available for students wishing to enter a write-in vote. A table with a computer students can use to case their votes will be available in Wilson Commons.
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