New Election Chair voted in amid controversy and re-votes

Franklin Hagler, Staff Writer

In one of the more hostile meetings of the year, United Students Government had major conflicts over the nomination and eventual appointment of the new Election Chair, Sarah Young.

USG Judicial Council, along with the Rules and Regulations Committee, nominated Director of Student Life Sarah Young to become the new Election Chair. The call to vote on this nomination was this past meeting, despite Young not being in attendance, marking the third time in the last four years that the nominee for Election Chair has not been in attendance for the vote in.

An endorsement from the Judicial Council, as well as from Director of the Student Union and USG Advisor, Sarah Velez, was put forth on Young’s behalf.

“I can say over the last three years, the only election chair to show up to a meeting was myself, and [Young] really wanted to be here, but left early because she was ill…. [Young] would be a great addition to USG, and wouldn’t be working outside of any guidelines that aren’t already set by the Senate,” Velez said. “I have worked in that chair; trust me the rules are pretty strict, and she has great ideas that would be very beneficial to USG.”

The true role of the Election Chair was still difficult to understand for many senators. The vote needed to be put in due to the Senate already being late with the initial appointment.

“We are already late with this appointment we should have already voted on this last month and be moving on to appointing committee members, so postponing this vote is not really an option,” Rules and Regulations Chair Iddris Abass said.

“This is unfair for us to vote on someone we cannot see or can speak for themselves.” USG Treasurer Diaisha Richards said echoing her fellow senators,  “It’s like having us vote on a new senate member without them in attendance, it just doesn’t work like that.”

The initial vote was turned down by the majority of the Senate, which then caused USG President Derek Jorden to jump into the discussion, clarifying who Young was and assuring the Senate that no direct contact comes between the election chair and Senate members.

“Sarah Young is the woman at every event and constantly helping us out,” Jorden said. “She does this for a living, guys, and having her as election chair won’t have her working with us daily.”

The meeting broke into a frenzy with many people questioning the methods of Young and the higher Senate officials use of timing tactics to get their vote in. Multiple senators, including Ja’Dejah Ellis, Roberto Williams, and Malika Cuffie would have liked to push the vote back one week with the stipulation that Young be present, but Jorden said that it is “highly unlikely that she would be in attendance, so voting today is the only option.”

“It’s unfair how we all have to suffer because the Rules and Regulations was late on getting back to us on their nomination, we are late because you’re late, and this isn’t the first time you guys have used this excuse to get us to vote in someone you like,” Richards said.

USG Executive Vice President Emily Leminger stated how difficult it is for the mostly-new top officials of the Senate.

“This job is really hard, most of the [Executive Board] is fairly new in their positions, so forgive us if we are behind, it is just not easy trying to figure on this stuff out, so we would appreciate some patience,” Leminger said.

A re-vote was casted, and after all questions and clarifications, Young was elected as election chair after with two-thirds vote due to “Robert’s Rule,” which is in the handbook that USG must follow when calling for votes or nominations.

The Budget Council had the most contention, with only one member of the committee voting “Yes.”  Vice Treasurer Yohanna Guerrero was visibly disappointed in the vote.

“As a member of Greek Life on campus, I have come into some interaction with Ms. Young and they have not been positive,” Guerrero said. “Some of the ideas she has for Greek Life and campus events I just do not agree with. Some just do not fit with what we want to do as students.”

The next order of business for USG was the appointment of Springfest Board and the filling of the associated vice president of campus life position. New Chair Senator Nikita Singh was voted in unanimously, and will begin taking suggestions on who the spring act will be.

“Working on last year’s committee was all practice for me, and I feel as though I will put forth the best show for the students because I will take their suggestions to heart,” Singh said.

Cuffie was elected as Singh’s co-chair of Springfest, as she highlighted her past experience as event coordinator for the Caribbean Student Organization.

The last order of business was the appointment of new AVP of Campus Life Senator Marcel Baker, who was unanimously voted in without any opposition.

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