Student Government undone
In 2000, a president was supposed to be chosen by the American electorate as had always happened every four years. Except this time around the question of who was president was left unanswered after November 15th, 2000, and wasn’t resolved until December 13th, 2000. Students at Eastern Michigan University were left in a similar predicament when the results for Student Body President and Vice President were left unanswered after votes had been tallied in late March.
The election hasn’t been sent to Supreme Court, of course, but the results and investigation proceedings were withheld for weeks. An adjunct of Student Government, the Student Election Commission, reviewed allegations of malfeasance on the part of Fatma Jaber who challenged the incumbent, Desmond Miller.
There hasn’t been any transparency. The secrecy with which Student Government surrounded the results of the election is untenable. Such clandestine behavior is not even the norm in Washington D.C. where investigations into members of Congress by ethics committees are known to the public. Student Government should have reported the results of the election immediately rather than leave students without answer to the question of who was president.
In light of Jaber’s violations of both Election Commission sanctions and sanctions placed on her campaign by Provost Kim Schatzel, the Election Commission disqualified the write-in ticket of Fatma Jaber/Chris VanWashenova, making the Desmond Miller/Steven Cole ticket the official winner in the Presidential race.
While the drama around the candidates is what has been mostly reported by this newspaper, and said in private conversations, the controversy is in the rules. This bungled election has revealed loopholes and omissions in the Student Government’s bylaws, which address elections. There aren’t any rules for the facilitation of a new election. Nor are there rules which govern the transfer of power in the case where a current president’s term ends and election results are contested.
When members of the Student Senate refused to ratify the election results Tuesday night, they were effectively moving to dissolve Student Government at EMU. Whether they know that’s what they were voting for or not is hard to say since many members of Student Government failed to stay informed through the investigation process. It became clear at the Senate meeting that a few didn’t even bother to read The Eastern Echo reports or the Election Commission reports as the investigation unfolded.
Student Government’s credibility and efficacy has been called into question. It has been unable to properly run an election, and has provided skeptics with fodder for its dismissal. But rather than be taken down by critics it appears Student Government will undo itself.