Down the hallway of the USG suite, Deborah Machalow spends some of her final days as an undergraduate student and as Executive Vice President in her office. It is decorated with a whiteboard littered with quotes from past presidents and politicians, a sign handed down to her that reminds USG officers “The Students Are The Reason We’re Here” and two large, green plants left over from a club’s event that she got to keep. Her multicolored Post-it-flagged Norton Shakespeare anthology lies on the desk as close to Machalow as her copy of the USG Code, and several old binders with previous USG laws are tucked underneath her desk.
The recent close of the main election and runoffs have resulted in members of the Seawolves for Change party occupying a whopping 22 seats in the organization, something that Machalow has concerns about.
“Unfortunately, you build a ticket to win,” Machalow said. She explained that a common tactic of this year’s election, and one that was often used by the now dominant Seawolves for Change, was to recruit many people that you think can win, and to get them to run alongside you, not concerning themselves with competence or whether or not they’d be good for the job. “We’ve seen that that doesn’t work all the time. You get a senate that doesn’t ask questions, that sits there silently and stares blankly at the chair. It doesn’t work.”
She further elaborated that those recruited into the ranks of Seawolves for Change are those interested in jockeying for university sports clubs.
Machalow also had growing concerns about the campaign tactics of the recent election, believing many of the candidates and parties to be stooping to nefarious and unethical campaigning practices in their quest for seats in the organization, breaking several rules and regulations set forth by USG and the university.
For example, regulations forbid any campaigning within 100 feet of a SINC site, COLA, a computer lab with four or more university-owned computers, as well as campus residences. Reports indicate that numerous parties were in violation of these regulations, and at least one unnamed party was responsible for “dorm storming” as part of the electioneering process. “There were repeated reports of people dorm storming and the elections board has done nothing, as far as I can tell.” she said.
In addition, the Student Conduct Code forbids candidates and parties from posting a message on multiple listservs in the attempt to reach the most people possible. “I would argue that at least one party went to multiple listservs with the same message,” Machalow said.
Campaigning parties were also guilty of directly violating electioneering regulations concerning the posting of fliers and other campaign materials on community bulletin boards. A notable example is the reporting of former presidential candidate of the Students United Party, Adil Hussain, for violating posting statutes.
“It was just disgusting. The whole thing makes me sick,” she said.
Another reservation Machalow has is the lack of experience and knowledge of the new senators and executive board members.
“Amy [Pomeroy] was a voting member of USG SAB and a front desk girl,” she said, further explaining that Pomeroy’s sole experience in the senate was a single day in which she proxied a senate meeting last year. “She spent the entire meeting on her phone and has been reported as saying that she never wanted to attend another senate meeting. She’s going to be running meetings next year.”
Machalow also believes that in order to adequately serve as an officer of USG, and especially the position of Executive Vice President, they must have experience as a senator first. “You don’t learn parliamentary procedure by reading Robert’s Rules of Order, as beautifully annotated as my copy is,” she said, gesturing to her copy. “You learn it by doing it and acting it out.”
“I still know the laws better than anyone else. I can talk parliamentary procedural circles around people.” she added.
Questions were also raised about the legitimacy of the current election board. “I’d be very interested to know if we actually had a full elections board. We [USG] are required to have between 5 and 15 people. I can only think of four,” she explained. Having a full elections board is important because they are the ones responsible for regulatory matters concerning parties and candidates, and an incomplete board would result in inadequate regulation.
“Elections should be easy, but they’re not. Especially when you don’t have an elections board that knows what it’s doing,” said Machalow.
A little known fact brought up by Machalow was the requirement of all parties and candidates to officially declare all campaign expenditures and donations to the elections board within 10 days of the conclusion of an election.
“I’d be very interested to know if Seawolves for Change declared their shirts, or if SUP declared their pens. Because, fun fact, the election laws state that if you don’t do this you are ineligible to take the office you won and also ineligible to hold any other position in USG.” However, Machalow doubts that the current elections board will take any action if there is a violation of the laws.
Ultimately, it isn’t Machalow that will have to deal with the newly elected members, it is the very student body that voted them in. The student body that they are to serve.
“The students will get the government they elect. If they choose to elect incompetent and corrupt individuals, the government will reflect that.”