Following a special election held by the Student Government Election Rules Commission (ERC), three elected senators have been denied seats in the SG Senate.
Justin McNabb and former student body presidential candidate Christopher Leddy were elected to senatorial seats in the College of Arts and Sciences in April. Nicole Nolan was elected to a senatorial seat in the College of Medicine.
However, during the election no vacant seats were available in those colleges, as indicated in the Notice of Special Election released by former Supervisor of Elections Michael van Hoek.
Because no vacant seats existed at the time, Leddy, McNabb and Nolan could not legally be seated, said Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Khalid Hassouneh.
The College of Arts and Sciences is allocated 27 Senate seats and the College of Medicine is allocated one. At the time the election results were certified, both colleges had the maximum number of seats filled.
Since the election results were certified, however, four senators have resigned, leaving two vacant seats in the College of Arts and Sciences, one in the College of Medicine and one in the College of Education.
Despite the fact that seats have become available in their colleges, SG still cannot seat Leddy, McNabb and Nolan, Hassouneh said.
Student body president told ERC to continue election
Deputy Supervisor of Elections Nachman Susson said the ERC was instructed by former Student Body President Gregory Morgan to keep two senate seats for the College of Arts and Sciences on the election ballot, despite the lack of vacancies.
Prior to the special election, Morgan sent an e-mail to Hassouneh and Senator Sarah Greenberg, requesting that they resign from their senatorial positions.
Hassouneh and Greenberg were appointed to the executive branch by Student Body President Juan Soltero. SG statutes prohibit students from being members of multiple branches.
“I feel that for the betterment of the organization and to ensure the maximum number of seats in Senate are full for this upcoming term, it would be best for you both to relinquish your 50th term Senate seat before Monday’s election in order that your seats be filled with fellow students from your colleges,” Morgan said in the e-mail.
However, Hassouneh said he did not want to resign from his senatorial position until the Soltero-Portigliatti Administration formally hired him.
In an e-mail to van Hoek and Susson, Morgan instructed the ERC to hold an election for the College of Arts and Sciences, saying that “although (Hassouneh and Greenberg) are not getting paid, they are already considered executive branch employees for the same term they are senators.”
All senatorial candidates were informed of the possibility of not being seated, Susson said. In an e-mail to the candidates, Susson said that “while at the moment it is unclear if there will be seats (in the College of Arts and Sciences), more than likely there will exist two seats.”
Susson said the ERC’s responsibility is only to hold elections, what is done with the results is the responsibility of the senate.
An issue of possible political vendettas
Despite the fact that he won the election, Leddy said he has not received an answer as to why he cannot be seated in the Senate.
“I’ve been investigating for the past week and basically what I came up with is that there’s no rule in the constitution or statutes that would deny us a seat,” Leddy said. “So Student Government is just, in my opinion, playing a political game to keep me out of the senate.”
Senate Clerk Anna Daily said this is not the case.
“While some may speculate that it is a political issue, it is not. If someone else had run, we would have the same exact issue,” she said. “It will be decided completely nonpolitically, completely on a legal basis, as to what can we do from a legal standpoint.”
Leddy said that though he has shown interest in being involved with SG, he feels the organization is purposefully trying to prevent him from doing so.
“I really feel like there are certain individuals in the executive branch, as well as senate leadership, that have certain political agendas,” Leddy said. “And to fulfill those political agendas, they will do whatever is possible to keep me out of the senate.”
Leddy said he has contacted the Dean of Students, Kevin Banks, in hopes of resolving the issue.
Potential solutions to the problem
Hassouneh said SG has three possible solutions for the senatorial seat issue. SG could hold another special election, rewrite its legislation or wait until December for the
The only organizations that can call for a special election, Hassouneh said, are the ERC and SG Supreme Court, neither of which is in session. Hiring a new ERC would likely take months, he said.
The senate could also rewrite its legislation to allow the senate president to call for a special election, but that would not be finished until July at the earliest, Hassouneh said.
The third option would be to do nothing about the situation, follow the normal election process as laid out in the constitution, and hold a midterm election in December.
Hassouneh said the senate would likely address the situation at its first summer
meeting Tuesday night.