Sophomore class waits for results of MCSG special election

Update: Results are in, and Nandita Elijah is the winner with 52.25% of the vote in the final round. Harrisonford Fauni came in second with 47.75% of the vote in the final round.

After ballots for the third special election of the semester closed Monday night, sophomores had to wait an unexpected two more days for an announcement of their newest class representative after a miscommunication with the Registrar’s Office.

Dean of Students Jim Hoppe said that Assistant Registrar Addy Free, who validates results of MCSG elections, contacted him on Tuesday to ask about the definition of who has sophomore status.

The Registrar’s Office defines a sophomore as any student with more than 32 credits, but Hoppe said MCSG defines the word as any student who started college in the fall 2012 semester. After Hoppe clarified the definition for Free, Free said he would validate the votes and send results to the MCSG election committee on Wednesday.

Free was too sick to come into work Wednesday morning and could not access the Macalester server to validate the ballots from home. Hoppe said that he expected Free to validate the results Thursday morning, which is after The Mac Weekly’s press deadline.

Hoppe and MCSG Vice President Rothin Datta ’16 said the group decided to wait before reporting unvalidated results. Datta emailed the three candidates, Harrisonford Fauni ’16, Nandita Elijah ’16 and Alex Dolabi ’16, and told them Tuesday night.

“It probably doesn’t affect a huge amount of students, but MCSG wants to be exact,” Hoppe said.

Datta said the results could discount those people who were not enrolled for both semesters last year.

“We would much rather share accurate results with the student body than share something immediate,” Datta said.

Datta and Hoppe declined to make a prediction about who would win before ballot validation. Datta indicated that he expected the votes to be very close, though it was difficult to tell looking at raw ranked ballots. He added that he was impressed by the raw voter turnout.

“It was cool for a special election to have so much,” he said. “We were concerned about voter fatigue, but at least 50 percent voted.”

He added that the percentage may fall after the final validation results, but the number was nonetheless impressive.

The special election took place after Bassem El-Remesh ‘16 was required to resign from his position as a class representative. FAC Chair Ellen Washington ’14 said she looked forward to moving through the third special election and fourth MCSG replacement of the semester.

“I’m still disappointed that it has to happen at all,” she said. “But I’m appreciative of the sophomore class for stepping up.”

Washington and Datta said they were impressed by the campaigns run by the three candidates.

“There was a lot of talking to people [in the campaigns],” Datta said. “Nandita and Harrisonford took pictures with people voting for them. It was cool to see the campaigns were a lot more personal as opposed to in the past with just posters.”

Fauni’s campaign also included an endorsement from Theater Professor Harry Waters, Jr.

“I asked Prof. Harry Waters Jr if he wanted to support me, and I was extremely happy when he said, ‘Yes!’ And took a vogue photo with me,” Fauni wrote in an email.

Fauni’s name also dominated the sidewalks on campus as part of his chalking campaign.

“I also chalked my campaign throughout campus and that took a long time to do but it was definitely worth it,” he wrote.

Dolabi said he regretted not chalking the campus.

“My only dissatisfaction concerns that I had what I would consider to be a ‘clever’ chalking idea that never came to fruition,” he said.

He created a Facebook group and received positive feedback on his campaign posters, but overall he wrote in an email that he was disappointed in his campaign.

“A student came up to me and said to me that my flyers had been pretty funny, enough so that I met this person simply because of it,” he wrote. “…but maybe mentioning that the posters were for this campaign would have been more helpful and informative. I mean, overall, saying this, it seems that I had a pretty bad campaign if one could objectively rate them.”

He added that he was happy to wait with the rest of the sophomore class, but he was eager to learn voter turnout. Elijah wrote in an email that she was stressed by the slow turnaround of results.

“All of yesterday, my heart rate went crazy every time I checked my email, so I ended up avoiding going on it entirely,” she said.

After getting Datta’s email, she said she relaxed and was willing to wait.

Washington, Datta and Hoppe said that they would be happy with whichever candidate won.

“I’m happy with all three candidates,” Datta said. “They all know a lot of people and all three are very involved.” Washington said the level of campaigning during a special election boded well for MCSG.

“I’m excited to have someone who is this gung-ho this late in the semester,” she said.

Hoppe said he credited the sophomore class with a positive attitude toward all the semester’s elections.

“I’m always heartened to see folks who take [MCSG] seriously,” he said. “It’s encouraging.”