Candidate appeals for Election Code violations delay MCSG Executive Board election

Candidate appeals for Election Code violations delay MCSG Executive Board election

Mandy Week, Associate News Editor

In the recently postponed Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) Executive Board election, four separate election code violations were reported. While students expected to receive ballots for the election on Thursday, Feb. 10, the Election Procedures Commission (EPC) sent an email to the student body the day before, announcing that release of the ballots would be pushed back until Monday, Feb. 14. Later, a Feb. 21 email from the EPC, intended to go out the previous Friday, Feb. 18 before election results were released, explained that the election had been delayed to make time for candidate appeals to election code violations. The email provided brief accounts of the four reported violations, three of which ended in no violation being found.

In this time, the EPC met in order to examine the reported violations and determine the proper courses of action. MCSG President and EPC Chair Shreya Nagdev ’22 described the process that the EPC undergoes in reviewing an election code violation, which can be reported by any student. The EPC discusses whether or not the report can be considered a violation, and, if so, what the appropriate sanction should be. Guidance is outlined in the election code, which is evaluated by MCSG on an annual basis.

Nagdev elaborated on EPC’s approach surrounding these violations and how they deliberated back and forth on what they perceived to be the intent behind each given message. She also detailed her role as EPC Chair.

“When violations come through, my job is more so to communicate to EPC what the violation is … [and] to give any background information that I know,” Nagdev said. “If something like this has happened in the past, … I’m supposed to be like the institutional memory there.”

While she ensures that EPC stays on task when evaluating each election code violation and appeal, Nagdev herself is unable to vote on each reported violation, and she does not participate in the deliberation. 

Further, Nagdev conducts the vote on each reported violation and potential sanction and then informs the Dean of Students of EPC’s decisions. 

Normally, the chair of EPC would share the appeals with the Student Judicial Council, a separate committee of students tasked with making recommendations. However, this group does not currently exist.

Dean of Students Kathryn Kay Coquemont said that the appeals ideally would not be directed towards an administrator in order to promote and maintain student governance.

As the advisor to MCSG, Director of Campus Center Programs and Services Andy Williams was also involved in the process of reviewing the election code violations and appeals. He mentioned that he attended two of the EPC meetings.

“EPC is run by students, and I’m there to provide guidance,” Williams said. “I’m there to provide clarification with the election code, not there to direct where things go, but to be there as a resource.”

He also highlighted EPC’s role in relation to the student body.

“The students on EPC are there because they’re dedicated to MCSG, and they are there to work for students,” Williams said.

However, some students expressed disappointment with the recent election and the reported violation and appeal process. Victor Wright ’23 described his campaign for vice president and how he felt that the EPC had not handled the situation surrounding the violation made against him appropriately.

“I don’t think the issues that occured within my experience were an issue with the election code itself: it was with the people who were in charge of applying the election code to my campaign,” Wright said.

The Feb. 21 email from the EPC asked that students “respect the privacy of all candidates; as … this is an emotional and highly personal period.” 

Coquemont expressed a similar sentiment and emphasized being mindful of how conversations related to the election could impact those involved.

“What does it mean that [students’] names are being put out there with these allegations without more detail?” Coquemont asked.

Moving forward, Nagdev explained that the EPC would be taking a closer look at the election code and rethinking some of its by-laws.

“It was really hard on candidates and EPC,” Nagdev said. “The election code is a really complicated … document, and so EPC did the best they could in interpreting it in the best way they knew how and … is going to make a bunch of suggestions of what needs to change in that document. Hopefully, those will be put in place next year.” 

Coquemont said that while she does not have authority over the election processes, she gave advice to MCSG about areas she felt they could learn from looking ahead.

Overall, many students have asked for greater respect and empathy towards one another in future MCSG elections.

“Although I am very disheartened and disappointed that a standard of respect was not held during this election period, I hope we can all learn from this and not make the same mistakes in the future,” MCSG Vice President and President-elect Jordanella Maluka ’23 wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly.

Elected to serve as the next president for MCSG, Maluka looks ahead with several hopes and initiatives for the Macalester community.

“No student should feel like they are not heard and not taken into consideration,” Maluka wrote. “I will continue advocating for Macalester’s most vulnerable students and … [raising] issues regarding housing, mental health, discrimination, harassment, and compensation.”

She especially emphasized that she will continue her current work as Vice President and SSRC Chair in her presidency to ensure that students have increased access to mental health resources and to address mental health concerns tied to the college’s academic culture.

Further, Maluka aims to center BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and international students’ voices in her plans to create meaningful change.

“I am a firm believer in leaving each place or situation that I cross paths with … in a better condition than I found it,” Maluka wrote. “I am also a person that strongly believes that my critique should always be aligned with my actions.”

Kamini Ramakrishna contributed to the reporting for this story.

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