Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Student Government has successfully vetted nine students to the elections board last week, as all forms of campaigning were suspended on Tuesday, Mar. 26, after an unnamed candidate brought the vetting process issue to light.
Malik Archer, the Chair of the Elections Board Committee, may choose the members of the Election Board but his choices must be approved by the USG Senate.
The Elections Board is, “an independent agency, [that] shall ensure that all elections within the Undergraduate Student Government are operated properly and fairly, as according to established legislation, policy, and procedures,” according to the USG Constitution.
A common concern among USG Senators was whether or not Election Board candidates knew about the Stony Brook constitutional bylaws. Senator Patrick Smith addressed this issue by asking Jalwa Afroz, a pre-med Election Board candidate, about weaknesses in current electoral bylaws. After a long pause, Afroz admitted, “Sorry, I can’t think at the top of my head of any weaknesses.”
Prior to the Senate meeting on Thursday, the candidates had gone through a Vetting Committee, which included Senator Michael Libretto, Senator Tara Schinasi, Senator Victor Ng and other USG officials who aren’t running for re-election. All nine candidates at the Senate meeting on Thursday had been previously approved by the Vetting Committee.
Senator Maximillian Shaps emphasized that senators should only ask necessary questions because the candidates, “had a very rigorous vetting process,” the day before. Marshall Wayne Cooper, a journalism candidate, was questioned about a possible bias because of his involvement with Black World Magazine, which is a USG funded club. In response, Cooper explained, “As soon as you step into the (Journalism) program, it’s all about being unbiased and fair.”
Ricardo Dixon, the only sophomore candidate present, was questioned more rigorously than the other candidates. Dixon was the only candidate that was not appointed to the Elections Board. Senator Schinasi, who was at the Vetting Committee meeting, said Dixon “didn’t meet the criteria as every other candidate.” Dixon also admitted that “(he) wasn’t too brushed up on election board bylaws.”
During Dixon’s voting session, many of the senators and senator proxies appeared to be confused about vote abstention. When the first motion to appoint Dixon to the Elections Board failed, Senator Lydia Senatus called for a clarification on what exactly vote abstention is, because six senators had abstained from voting in the previous session. Senator Bouraad clarified this issue, “no, basically means that you are not in favor of him being on the elections board,” and “an abstention is basically saying that you’re not voting due to a moral obligation – it’s basically being absent.” After this was clarified, the motion went to a second vote and failed once again.
Aside from the Election Board, the senators also discussed the second Special Services Council (SSC) appropriations act. Brendan Brown-McCue, a proxy for the senator behind the second appropriations act, explained, “leftover money from last year can go into further SSC budgeting.”
At the end of the senate meeting, Thomas Kirnbauer, the USG Administrative Director, reinforced the campaigning suspension and told present candidates to await further instructions. “I only say this because there are candidates who may not be in the room, so I want to put it on an even playing field.”
Kirnbauer is currently responsible for the Elections Board until its members are properly vetted.