Consistency and clarity. Never have two words seemed so simple and yet remained so elusive to our student government and its Elections Board.
The past few weeks have been what can only be described as a brouhaha of epic proportions. Students have watched metaphorical fists fly between candidates and have struggled to keep up with the nonstop stream of politics-induced campus drama. I keep running up to upperclassmen, asking, “This isn’t normal, right? This isn’t how it normally is?”
Here’s a brief summary surrounding the intrigue of the elections: Mario Karras (17Ox, 19B) declared his candidacy for Student Government Association (SGA) president a day late, apparently due to a Wi-Fi error. Radhika Kadakia (20C) declared her College Council (CC) president candidacy a date late, apparently due to a misunderstanding. Both infractions, according to a March 26 email sent to CC First-Year Legislator Alec Giufurta (21C) from Elections Board Chair Betty Zhang (20C), were allowed to “let slide.” Sania Chandrani (19B) declared her SGA presidency over email a day late and was denied, the logic of which continues to blow my mind with its sheer ridiculousness.
That was day one. Fast forward to reports of SGA presidential candidate Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) buying students drinks at everyone’s favorite dive, Maggie’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. Karras’s friends reported Ma to the Elections Board. This feud quickly got personal with the Facebook brawl of the century, ending with Ma telling Karras, “If you drop out of the election, as will I.”
Then came voting: the time when thousands of students realized that as a result of the credits they brought into the school, they could not vote for the representatives for their grade. Hundreds of juniors were left without a vote, as they technically held senior status. On top of all of this salacious goodness, we get to add in a Facebook post detailing comments made by SGA presidential candidate Elias Neibart (20C) in 2015 against the legalization of same-sex marriage. Neibart quickly released a statement to try and salvage the situation — he claimed that his views have changed — but many students were left feeling cheated out of their vote.
A day after elections ended, the student body waited for a re-vote for CC second-year legislator, because CC candidate Surya Garg’s (21C) name was accidentally put on the SGA ballot. To change this, her votes were subtracted from the total in SGA and that’s how the sophomore representative was decided. Justification for this action was found in the Elections Code Part III, Article 2, Section G, subsection 4, declaring that votes for “fictional, ineligible, or unregistered write-in candidates shall be discarded.”
This clause would make perfect sense, except that this “ineligible candidate” was put on the wrong ballot by the Elections Board. The votes to her name are lost, eliminating the votes of 41 students, violating Part III, Article 5, Section A that says every student should have the opportunity to vote. Not those students, I guess.
The Elections Board, the epitome of academic incompetence, has failed to respond proactively to a single one of these grievances. They have brushed off, denied or justified every misstep and false ruling. The Elections Board, which is supposed to protect the integrity of institutions that work for students, continues to retreat behind closed doors to make decisions that don’t benefit the student body. The hearings from the Constitutional Council have resulted in Zhang’s resignation; however, the rest of the Elections Board and the faulty Elections Code are also to blame for the issues we’ve seen during these elections. As a political science major, I believe democratic systems work. But the current system of student government elections, which has allowed innumerable violations and keeps tripping over its own feet, disgusts me. The election system itself needs to be rectified. Until that happens, Emory’s student government elections can only be considered an illegitimate institution.
Lyndsey Garbee is a College freshman from Sewickley, Pa., who will serve as a second year legislator on the 63rd College Council.