The focus of this week’s MCSG meeting was the legitimacy of the Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) chair election held this past Monday, Sept. 23 and Tuesday Sept. 24.
Last semester, the student body elected Maxwell Kent ’20 as FAC Chair by three votes over FAC member Jason Kohn ’20. A week later, another election was held after Kohn successfully appealed the first result on the grounds that the election code of MCSG was violated.
Kent won the second election by a wider margin, but resigned his post this past August. MCSG then held a third election, to find Kent’s successor on Monday and Tuesday.
But this election went wrong as well. At this week’s meeting, Cha and Associate Dean of Students Andrew Wells reported that the third election ballots used on Monday were improperly formatted. According to MCSG election code, the FAC Chair must be elected by a ranked-choice system, in which voters are prompted to rank their top three candidates for the position.
The Monday morning ballots, however, only allowed for the selection of one candidate.
This prompted a contentious debate between members of the Legislative Body (LB). The LB debated whether the election should be annulled because of the improper ballots. Some members argued that the most important issue was to follow proper election procedures, while others voiced concerns about staging a fourth election.
Hannah Gilbert ’22 voiced concerns about integrity and holding future student governments accountable for election mistakes.
“If as MCSG we don’t follow our own rules, what is the purpose of making more rules?” Gilbert said. “We should be doing our best to adhere to the guidelines we set, because otherwise all of the guidelines we will set in the future will have very little meaning.
“With the FAC elections, it’s very clearly written into the election code that it should be ranked choice and it was not in this case,” she continued. “It’s better to go another week without an FAC chair than to have, to some degree, an illegitimately elected FAC chair.”
Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) member Karinna Gerhardt ’20 also expressed a concern over the integrity of the voting process. The results could have changed if the election were conducted correctly.
“It is possible that even the option to vote in a ranked choice way could affect the way people have voted,” Gerhardt said. “I don’t think the election would be valid given that it’s in the election code that it has to be ranked choice.”
Others approached the issue from a different perspective. Natalie Sorajja ’21 worried that having another election would tarnish the image of MCSG in the eyes of the student body.
“Is it more important to follow our own rules or do what the student body wants?” Sorajja said. “We’re here to serve the students, and I don’t think it’s right to make them more frustrated in a fourth round of the FAC chair election. I’m concerned about the students and what they’d think of MCSG if we had a revote.”
Katie Brown ‘22 concurred, noting the practical difficulties of waiting to appoint an FAC chair.
“Usually we have an FAC chair by now,” Brown said. “By postponing this election, it’s going to be at least another week that that person isn’t put into this position.”
Student liaison to the board of trustees Ximena Silva-Avila ’20 offered a blunt perspective about the MCSG election process.
“As a student, I feel like half the time [MCSG] is just a popularity contest,” Silva-Avila said. “If there are organizations that have no funding and if the person who is supposed to do the funding we will have voted on four times before they’re elected… The same people are not going to vote.
“You are losing people every single time you run this election, and you are making students like myself who are not a part of MCSG question the effectiveness of the legislative body.”
After debate, the LB voted ten to three to keep the FAC election results are they are. Two members of the LB abstained from the vote.
The results of the election will be available by the end of the week.