On April 18, junior Emily Stasko informed the Student Association Senate that a violation of their bylaws regarding the elections process had prevented her from running for SA President this semester.
All potential candidates for SA President are required to collect 500 student signatures on an official
According to Title IV, Chapter 2, Part A, Section 203 of the SA Code, “A sheet of instructions stating the necessary dates and rules of the election shall be included with each packet of petitions.”
Although this is stated in the bylaws, none of the candidates who received a petition from the SA offices in The Point had the required instruction sheet included in their packet or were made aware of the rule by SA.
“When I had the petition, nowhere on it did it say I couldn’t canvas, so I then had my teammates out there to help me get the signatures,” Stasko said.
Stasko petitioned to get her name on the SA election ballot for president, but was told that not only would her petition be rejected if she turned it in, but her job as the director of public relations for SA was in jeopardy due to the way she had her petition filled out.
“I had heard there were people saying that now I was at risk of losing my job, which to me, the two don’t really correlate,” Stasko said.
Stasko was unable to run for president and Dalton Bisson, the other presidential candidate, was only aware of the bylaws regarding elections because of his current position as SA vice president.
“I was not actively made aware [of the rule], but I knew,” Bisson said.
According to Stasko, she was informed that her method of collecting signatures was against SA bylaws the night before the petitions were due and was not officially informed by anyone in SA. A concern she had was that even as a member of SA she was not officially informed. She said her concern grew when she heard her job as director of public relations was at stake as well.
“Really that would have been the [SA Supreme] Court’s decision, but really they wouldn’t have been allowed to do that,” SA President Emily Nassir said.
If Stasko turned in her petition in to SA for processing, she may have been taken to the SA Supreme Court for violating the SA bylaws, but she was informed that her petition would not have been accepted before doing so.
“She caught wind of it before it actually became a problem,” Nassir said.
As for why Stasko was not contacted directly, the process for officially notifying someone of an issue with their compliance with the bylaws is an investigative process done by the SA attorney general.
“If speculation of an issue comes up, the attorney general can start to kind of dig around and see what’s going on,” Nassir said. “They can’t actually launch anything until there’s an official complaint.”
The SA bylaws require an information sheet to be provided with the petitions, which was not included by the elections committee when the petition packages were printed.
The entire elections process is overseen by the election subcommittee, including the formatting of the petitions potential candidates use. The chair of the elections subcommittee, Connor Breese, only realized that this page had been omitted after the issue had already occurred. Breese was unavailable due to personal issues during the timeframe when Stasko’s petition was found to be invalid.
“I knew there was an issue that needed to be addressed,” Breese said. “I didn’t realize that our petitions had gone out without the instruction sheets they were supposed to have.”
Stasko’s presentation to SA focused on how she felt there was a lack of communication between those who were running the election and those who were running in the election.
Stasko said she brought the issue to SA to make sure that future petitioners are able to go through the process with all the pertinent information. Her own situation is not fixable, as the election process has already been completed, with Bisson winning the SA president seat.
“I’m going to be a senior next year, nothing really personally can come out of this for me, but just so that in the future it’s said,” Stasko said.
The chair of the elections subcommittee has already begun the process of fixing this oversight.
“I found out there was no instruction sheet,” Breese said. “I’m making sure that that was written up and taken care of so we can make sure that next year this doesn’t happen again.”
Stasko said she is concerned that SA was not diligent in following their own bylaws in this situation, yet continue to monitor how clubs and students follow the same bylaws.
“A code cannot only be used when it is convenient,” Stasko said.
The senate has begun the task of repairing the elections process.
“We’re continuing to look back and see what we could do different,” Bisson said. “The election subcommittee and other parties interested within senate have met two or three times so far to go over election law.”
Part of the process of fixing the elections process will involve spreading the responsibilities of the election subcommittee among multiple members, rather than the current model of having the chair of the subcommittee handle most of the process.
“Instead of one individual running the show, we’re splitting that up and we’re looking [at] maybe three or four individuals dealing with various aspects of the election,” Bisson said. “Should something unfortunate happen to one of those people, and they have to step out, it’s not a total mishap.”