Three weeks after Reuben Moncada ’15 unexpectedly stepped down as VP for Activities on the Vassar Student Association (VSA), Lauren Garcia ’16, after a 200 to 200 vote tie in the election, was appointed by VSA to be his successor.
Garcia and the VSA Council hope that her plans for smoother progressions of pre-orgs into full fledged organizations as well as her previous experience with student groups will assist her in a swift transition to the executive position and will foster a more proactive Activities Committee.
On Sept. 28, after Moncada announced his resignation, Council decided to fill the position by a special election. The following day, students were able to file and begin campaigning. The polls opened on Oct. 6. Despite concerns that it defied precedence, the debate was held one day after polls opened. Two days after voting began, the polls closed.
The election results, announced at 5 p.m. on Oct. 8, showed a 200 to 200 vote tie between Garcia and opposing candidate Josh Tempro ’16, with a third candidate receiving significantly fewer votes. Although an election was held specifically to leave the decision to the student body, according to the Board of Elections and Appointments (BOEA) bylaws, if an election results in a tie, the winner must be decided by a council appointment.
According to the bylaws, the appointment would be decided by vote with the candidates present; however, members of council agreed this protocol can be unnecessarily stressful and uncomfortable for all parties. During the Oct. 12 council meeting, VSA President Carolina Gustafson ’15 said, “By the bylaws it says that we have to bring them in and interview them on the council floor, but it’s been incredibly upsetting for everyone involved.”
She continued, “So we wanted to bring them in just in case people have additional questions. It’s awkward, it’s not ideal, but I would encourage everyone to keep in mind that this isn’t about people in general, it’s about the position.”
After speaking with candidates, the BOEA recommended Garcia for the position, and, after the VSA suspended the bylaws to deliberate in a closed session, the appointment was made in her favor. VP for Operations Ramy Abbady ’16 said of Garcia, “She’s been involved in a lot of orgs. She’s the vice president of a lot of other orgs this year, and I know she’s heavily involved in the Vassarion, so I think she brings a lot of relevant experience into the position.”
Garcia was pleased at how well the VSA handled the matter. She said, “It must have been a hard situation, to decide whether to elect or appoint, but the transition could have been much harder than it was.” Driven by personal experiences with student groups, Garcia ran to try to improve upon the student organization system. “…Until you find an org on campus, you don’t really find yourself on campus. You can be totally detached from Vassar until you find your place there,” said Garcia.
Garcia also aims to make the application for full status easier for pre-orgs. “For a long time the pre-org setup just made it so that the pre-orgs are created to fail, in a way, because they didn’t have funding, they didn’t reserve spaces and they didn’t have a [Student Activities Resource Center (SARC)] intern,” Garcia said. “So now we’re coordinating the money and SARC interns. We’re allowing them to make it. Now when students say, ‘Hey this is what I want on campus,’ they’ll actually be able to get it.”
She continued, “The student body has changed so much in recent years that we can’t continue to do the things that we’ve always done. We’re not the same people that we’ve always been. By changing the orgs and changing the different types of things we have here, people can find their places on campus, which is so important especially in college.”
Despite the suddenness of her appointment, Garcia is working hard to transition to the new position quickly. She remarked, “It’s been a lot of work, with meetings and emailing everyone and knowing exactly how to answer each question I get. I want to do the best job that I can, and I think that I, as well as the rest of VSA Exec, can do a lot of things for the community through this position.”