This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.
Published: May 12, 2010

Let results of GSA election stand

To the Editor:

Last month, Olivier Delrieu-Schulze and Cayden Mak were elected president and vice president, respectively, of the Graduate Student Association. They have not been allowed to take office, however, and the results of the election have not even been announced. The opposing slate (Massimo Betello for president, Grace Mukupa for vice president) contested the election—this is the only way one can deduce the actual winners. Since the GSA’s Elections and Credentials (EC) Committee itself was accused of wrongdoing, the appeal was punted to the Student-Wide Judiciary, which remarkably decided to nullify the election, fire the current EC Committee and reschedule a new election for next fall.

Upon closer inspection, however, this decision makes no sense. Section 9.2 of the Elections and Credentials Committee’s own guidelines for the election states that any complaints about alleged infractions must be made within 24 hours. It’s not known what exactly Betello and Mukupa complained about post-election, but the terse decision handed down by the SWJ mentions “major errors…by this Elections and Credentials committee, which had an unfair impact on the candidates.”

This undoubtedly refers to incidents, such as an endorsement mistakenly sent by a GSA senator over a student listserv; a poorly scheduled debate that ran longer than it was supposed to; confusion about where and when campaign fliers could be handed out; and the postponement of the elections themselves due to a procedure error.

The point is that all of these incidents were brought to the attention of the EC and ruled upon prior to the election, with the rulings accepted by all candidates. To appeal again after the election because you don’t like the result is sour grapes—not to mention against the EC’s own rules.

It does state in Section 9.2 of the guidelines that the election itself can be contested within 24 hours. But Betello and Mukupa apparently are not contesting the actual results, in which Delrieu-Schulze and Mak won by a slim but definite margin. (The margin in the presidential vote was 19; 10 in the vice presidential vote, with approximately 300 students voting.) Therefore, again, it makes no sense to throw out the results based on allegations and infractions that already were ruled upon by the EC in the days and weeks preceding the elections, especially when most of those mistakes affected both slates equally.

The bottom line is that, despite all the errors, all candidates had ample and equal time to present their case to the student voting body. The students voted, and there was a clear winner. That should be the end of it.

The decision to reschedule the elections is especially misguided since it cuts the incoming administration’s term by several months and removes some key duties, such as hiring the director of the MDRF (Mark Diamond Research Fund) and the GSA webmaster, and puts them in the hands of unelected officers. It also disenfranchises those student voters who will not be here in the fall, and puts the candidates before an entirely new voting body of incoming students who will have no idea what they’re voting on.

It also sets an incredibly dangerous precedent: If you don’t like the results of an election, accuse the EC of wrongdoing and the SWJ will give you a do-over. Never mind that it wastes time and money, and hampers the business of the GSA and the interests of the students it represents.

Were mistakes made in the GSA elections? Certainly. But those mistakes affected all candidates, and ultimately did not alter the outcome of the election. No students were disenfranchised. There was no fraud. There was a valid election with a clear outcome. It must be allowed to stand.

David Hadbawnik
PhD Candidate
Department of English