SGA elections continue in surprising turn of events

The executive election has culminated in a runoff election and an unexpected violation, delaying the release of results.

After no presidential candidate received more than 35% of the student body’s vote, Student Association held a runoff election as the vote remained undecided. All other positions remained unopposed; Carter Dierlam won Vice President, Ben Prugh will preside as Treasurer and Michael Combs prevails as Secretary. The two candidates receiving the most votes and subsequently eligible for the runoff were Athan Lau and Sepand Ashenayi.

The two were slated to have a runoff debate the Monday following the election results and faced a myriad of questions from the audience and Peter Nguyen, Student Government Association Residential Experience Coordinator. They started with their goals as Student Government Association President; Ashenayi defined his S.T.A.N.D. platform, with S meaning safety, T for transparency, A for accessibility, N for new programming and D for diversity. Ashenayi wants to “just keep it going” regarding diversity in his platform. This platform feels best served as an acronym, opposed to being a statement of how Ashenayi intends to improve the student experience. Lau defined his goals as first bridging the gap between Student Government Association and the student body by making strides to build trust between the two parties. Lau’s platform focuses on transparency, yet is unsupported in places where SGA can be more transparent to the student body.

In the following question, the candidates were asked an issue they see with TU. Ashenayi answered first, stating that he wants people to be proud to say they go to TU and that TU needs to become more connected with the surrounding community, through events like Light up TU and the Fall Bash. Lau once again mentioned the disconnect between the student body and Student Government Association and how he would take time to ask, “What is Student Government Association doing right now? And how can we change for the better?”

Then the floor opened up to questions from the audience, with the first inquiring how the candidates manage their intense student schedule in relation to SGA president duties. Ashenayi had a tough schedule managing four different jobs, which he intended to drop if he were to become president. Lau primarily works at his mom’s restaurant, while also dedicating time to the Asian American Student Association, badminton club and Student Government Association Government Operations Committee. Lau also plans to drop all of these commitments if he were to win the presidential position. Let’s hope that either one of these candidates can be the one to inspire the student body (beyond Greek life) to care about the Student Government Association.

Another great question from the audience asked each candidate why they would vote for their counterpart. The nervous laughter from both candidates exemplified the respect they have for one another while trying to not give the other an edge. Lau claimed that Ashenayi “is very ambitious and wanting to lead, even though he’s not a senior,” highlighting Ashenayi’s youth. Ashenayi proposed that Lau is a “busy bee” and “one of the most hard-working people he has ever met.” Ashenayi seemed to have a genuine respect for Lau’s candidacy and was able to recount the positive impact Lau has had on campus. The candidates both had great answers and caused a lively debate that proved they are both well-qualified candidates for the role.

The runoff elections started the following morning, but results were not announced as an unnamed candidate committed an election violation. The candidate who committed the violation has been presented three options: disqualification from the race, a formal release from Student Government Association with details about the violation and a subsequent runoff election or a quiet concession.

I believe the student body deserves to know what this violation is. It should be left to the students to decide whether or not the violation constitutes nullifying the hard work that goes into creating a campaign. Although, it can only be imagined how serious the violation is and if a second runoff election is fair to the candidate that played by the rules. This remains a developing story and The Collegian will continue to investigate in the coming week.

Post Author: Adam Porterie