The GUSA Senate certified the results of the Feb. 22 election of GUSA executive candidates Sahil Nair (SFS ‘19) and Naba Rahman (SFS ‘19) on Sunday 27-0 with one abstention. The senate also unanimously confirmed the results of the two campus-wide referendums that were also presented to the student body on election day, changing the structure of the senate and GUSA constitution.
Nair and Rahman were elected last Thursday by a margin of 36 votes out of a pool of four GUSA executive tickets. Both were present for the session, along with the current GUSA president Kamar Mack (COL ‘19) and vice president Jessica Andino (COL ‘18). Josh Sirois (SFS ‘20), one of the former presidential candidates, was also in the room in his role as a GUSA senator. He voted yea on both resolutions and was the only abstainer on the confirmation vote of Nair and Rahman.
GUSA Election Commission Vice Chair Grady Willard (SFS ‘18), and Commissioner Minji Doh (SFS ‘19) presented a list of complaints regarding both the Sirois/Doherty and Nair/Rahman campaigns to the senate, such as campaigning before the official campaigning period began.
Willard recalled to the senate that the Snapchat complaint originated with the Sirois/Doherty campaign, who alleged that in the days leading up to the election, the Nair/Rahman campaign purchased a Snapchat filter around campus that went above the $300 budget maximum allowed by GUSA campaign laws for each campaign.
However, after the election, the Sirois and Casey Doherty (COL ‘20) campaign alleged that the Nair/Rahman campaign overspent their $300 budget, namely through the purchase of Snapchat filters in the days preceding the election.
The complaint, according to Willard, was investigated and found that the Nair/Rahman campaign did not violate any bylaws and that the Snapchat filters were purchased only for a short amount of time in certain parts of campus, such as Leo’s during peak dining hours and in Lauinger Library. According to the receipts that were submitted to the Election Commission, the Nair/Rahman did not go above their $300 budget.
“If the Snapchat filters had covered all of campus, for that entire period, it would have been over the finance limit, but it was not covered throughout campus.” Willard said.“I think we [the Election Commission] all agreed that the evidence does not suggest a campaign violation.”
Willard did promote the possibility of new bylaws being created to regulate or even ban the use of Snapchat and other social media outlets by campaigns in future elections.
“I do think that the campaign finance system is broken,” Willard said. “I think a ton of campaigns [go beyond the $300 limit]. I am not accusing any campaign this year or in other years, but I do think that has happened in the past, and the senate needs to think how we can perform better oversight.”
In spite of the complaints brought up against each campaign, Willard said the general tone of the campaigns were “generally positive,” with a few exceptions of negative campaigning.
“I think that it was disappointing to hear people accusing other people of being racist, sexist, or using certain people for certain ends,” Willard said.
The two referendum questions attached to the executive ballot were both confirmed unanimously by the senators. The first referendum changed the GUSA Bylaws and Constitution to include the election of senators by class year, compared to where the individual senators live and adjusting the time of upperclassman elections from September to April. This is the third time the restructuring referendum has been presented to the student body.
The second referendum updated the GUSA Bylaws to provide protection for student participation on campus via expansions in citizenship, gender identity, and disabilities options.
GUSA Senate Speaker Ben Baldwin (SFS ‘19) applauded the success of the referendums.
“That constitution has been in place for 12 years,” he said. “And we were the ones to reform it.”
Nair and Rahman will be sworn in at an official ceremony on March 17th.