Eastern Michigan University’s Student Senate met Tuesday night to ratify the 2014 Student Government Election results.
If the 2014 election results were not ratified, the current student government terms of office would expire on Monday, April 28 and there would be no one with the authority under the Student Government Constitution and bylaws to ratify the election results, effectively terminating student government at EMU.
The meeting quickly escalated from a discussion of the facts and documents provided in the Election Commission’s report regarding the disqualification of write-in candidate Fatma Jaber to a fight between the pro-Jaber and pro-Desmond Miller contingents.
“The commission conducted a fair and thorough investigation that at all times was assisted as needed by the General Counsel’s office to ensure a fair and thorough investigation,” Leigh Greden, Faculty Advisor for Student Government said. “Student Government is an important part of the University and we work with every member of Student Government regardless of who they are. They are a student driven organization and it is simply not true that the University has a preference over a candidate over any other candidate.”
Students who wanted to understand the election process and others who voted for Jaber during the election packed the meeting room to ask questions and observe the session. Jaber’s supporters filed into the room holding print-outs reading, “I voted for Fatma Jaber for President and the Decision Should Stand.”
An attorney representing an Anti-Islamic Discrimination Organization came to meeting and told the room that they were monitoring the situation very closely.
“I do feel some of the way things came out was unfair,” said Jamil Khalid, Student Senator and Election Commission member. “The accusations were not supposed to be available [to the public] the way they were. The Election Commission was supposed to have the information for ourselves and ourselves only.”
The discussion in the room centered heavily on amount of votes the Jaber/VanWashenova ticket received.
According to the Student Government Election Commission, if all derivatives of Jaber’s or VanWashenova’s name were counted the Jaber/VanWashenova ticket would have won the 2014 election.
Accusations of voter fraud and the definition of the way a vote is determined – votes only count if made for a ticket, not an individual – set forth in section 6.7 of the Student Government bylaws, produced a 1,174 – 85 result in favor of the Miller/Cole ticket.
The amount of votes, both credible and non-credible, are inconsequential because the Jaber/VanWashenova ticket was disqualified from the election for repeatedly breaking campaign sanctions placed on it by the Election Commission and Provost Kim Schatzel, however, the Senate largely ignored this fact.
As a compromise, an amendment to change the resolution to only ratify the Senate election results, and not the President/Vice President election results, was brought to a vote and passed by the Senate.
After the resolution had passed, President Desmond Miller made it known to the Senate that he planned on using his power of veto to kill the resolution on Monday if the Senate could not agree on the original resolution ratifying the entire election’s results.
“We are not 100 percent certain, but it is the general consensus that it will no longer [exist],” said Nino Monea, Vice-President of Student Government. “I cannot comment on why each individual [member of the Senate] did not read the [Election Commission’s] Report.”
Schatzel has received Jaber’s appeal of the Election Commission’s decision to disqualify her from the election. Schatzel has requested additional information from Jaber to determine if the appeal has merit.
“The Provost’s role in this matter is to review the appeal according to the process outlined in the Student Government bylaws,” Schatzel said. “The review will determine if an error in process occurred that would have changed the outcome of the Election Commission’s decision.”
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