Two Sundays ago, VSA President Tamar Ballard ’19 and Vice President Rori Chuck ’19 addressed a packed senate meeting. The decision long awaited by students across campus came swiftly and unceremoniously: The VSA
would not hold a re-election for Executive Board positions.
The resolution concluded weeks of uncertainty surrounding the elections. The original confusion resulted from technical glitches in the voting portal, which ultimately forced VSA to reopen all constituent-based elections.
According to Chuck, Computing & Information Services’ statistical analysis on the results found that despite the voting portal being available to over 6,000 accounts, no illegitimate votes were submitted. VSA Executive Board electees had rightfully won their seats.
However, a new challenge to the election’s legitimacy has surfaced. In an online petition, anonymous organizers called for a re-election of all VSA positions, writing, “[W]e can implement a re-election for VSA All-Campus positions by gathering signatures.”
There is further confusion surrounding the legitimacy of the petition itself, as it may be based upon a misinterpretation of VSA bylaws. Article XI, Section 12 reads in part, “Any constituency shall have the power to recall any officers elected by that constituency … If the constituency is campus-wide, the petition to recall must contain the signatures of at least 15% of the VSA,” as opposed to 15 percent of the student body. However, Ballard stated in an email that the petition is considered legitimate by the present Executive Board.
The petition—now closed— further suggested that other nebulous influences could have swayed election results. It read, “[S]o many confusing emails…said: ‘not to vote.’ This could have negatively affected the election due to the election process not being transparent and ultimately caused people to abstain from voting.” Vice President-elect Mendel Jiménez ’20’s resignation also cited illegitimacy concerns. He wrote in a letter to The Miscellany News, “I do not believe the elections were legitimate … I cannot in good conscience assume the position of Vice President.” According to Chuck, interviews for the Vice President and Chair of Residential Affairs vacancies have been conducted, with an appointment decision to be announced this Sunday.
Below, The Miscellany News has collected statements from those already chosen to serve on the 2019-2020 VSA Executive Board.
President Carlos Espina
Throughout my campaign, I proposed many policy proposals and I intend to do everything I can to fulfill them during my term. Although each issue will be approached in the manner most appropriate under the given circumstances, an overarching theme will be to make sure that administrators and President Bradley take the VSA seriously and understand that the interests of the student body come before all else. Beyond this, I will engage and work with students, faculty, administrators and community members to identify realistic and efficient solutions to the problems on campus.
Chair of Organizations Happy Xu
Now that I’ve been elected as the incoming Chair of Orgs, my number one goal is to provide more transparency and understanding for org-related concerns, whether that be defining clearly what qualifies as a pre-org and org or how to effectively program events with the SARC and other orgs. I also want to make the Fall Leadership Conference an impactful and meaningful experience for everyone and ensure that the Activities Fair runs smoothly. I plan on doing these things by communicating effectively with orgs, VSA and exec, staff members, etc. ahead of time to make sure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to do to help orgs be successful.
Chair of Equity and Inclusion Kevin Arce
Arce did not respond to The Miscellany News’ requests for comment. This year’s Chair, Eloudia Odamy ’21, commented the following:
I am excited for Kevin to take over as the Chair of Equity and Inclusion. I have had the privilege of knowing Kevin since I participated in the Transitions program and, through that, I have seen that he really values helping low-income and/or first-generation students settle at Vassar. Because of this, Kevin is someone that you can talk to about anything as he would take time to listen and give advice. He is hardworking, and equity, diversity, and inclusion are important to him and I know that he would take the job very seriously and bring change to the campus!
Chair of Finance Emily Janoski
I will work to demystify VSA Finance so that all orgs, treasurers and students are familiar with the options open to them for funding. Early in the fall semester, I hope to arrange comprehensive training for treasurers to alleviate any confusion, as well as open applications for new members of the Finance Committee so that we can continue including new and diverse voices. I will also be reformulating the training materials and instructions for treasurers so that they will be easier to understand and access.
Chair of Academics Milo Mitchell
I think my main priority as the new Chair of Academics is working to make the transition to the rebalanced curriculum as smooth as possible, which includes devising a process for students to spearhead intensive proposal. I’d also like to explore expanding more resources for TVE students and crediting students for natural science labs.