SGA elections result in new officers, drama
This year’s Student Government Association (SGA) elections, which were held on Wednesday, March 28, had some interesting results: new officers and new class representatives, as well as accusations and campus-wide drama.
Questions regarding the validity of the recent SGA elections surfaced when running mates Nicholas Cutter and Joseph Kalet filed a grievance against their opponents Sebastian Notaro and Julianne “Jules” Shelton, who won the election. All nominees are currently juniors.
Cutter, SGA’s current academic affairs chair, and Kalet, a junior class representative, ran together for the positions of president and vice president, respectively. Their opposition, Notaro, current SGA comptroller, and Shelton, current SGA vice president, won by 24 votes in a 120-84 contest.
Elections were held that Wednesday through Le Moyne’s CampusGroups website, with the winners announced later that same evening at SGA’s weekly meeting.
However, the events leading up to elections raised questions and controversy among students and the Cutter-Kalet campaign.
On Thursday, March 29, Cutter and Kalet submitted a grievance to the SGA Elections Committee. This committee consists of five SGA representatives: the SGA secretary, who acts as the committee chair, and one elected student senator from each class year. These individuals are responsible for reviewing grievances and deciding whether a re-election should take place.
The grievance outlined several issues that Cutter and Kalet believed compromised the validity of the election results.
According to Cutter and Kalet, the balloting times were advertised incorrectly and the correct time was not advertised by the election committee enough.
“The website advertised the times 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., instead of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Kalet explained. “Even then, we had like 20 to 30 people come up to us and say they had no idea when elections were or that they couldn’t log on to CampusGroups.”
Cutter and Kalet also added that many students were not aware of how long the registration process would take. Some students reported having to wait up to seven hours before receiving a confirmation email from CampusGroups so they could log in.
“While it was told to students that they would not be able to vote if they were not a part of CampusGroups, there was nothing said about not being able to register the day of the election,” their grievance stated. “These students should have had the right to vote and at the moment, none of them did.”
However, Notaro and Shelton pointed out that these concerns were anticipated and taken care of beforehand.
“For any of those who had problems voting, two emails were sent out to the student body with what to do if they were having problems with CampusGroups,” they explained in a joint email. “Everyone who followed that protocol had their problems corrected.”
Cutter and Kalet’s grievance also emphasized their opposing candidates’ morality and ethics throughout the campaign.
All running candidates are required to sign and abide by a campaign contract to ensure a fair race. This contract explicitly states that “all members are expected to follow moral principles and act ethically at all times, especially since you [the candidate] will serve as a role model amongst the student body.”
Cutter and Kalet felt that this principle was overlooked by the Notaro-Shelton campaign, as they used free ice cream, juice and Play-Doh to boost their campaign.
“We don’t want to use the term ‘bribery,’ but we felt like this election was really focused on the free stuff instead of the politics,” Kalet explained.
“Some students even came up to me and asked what I’d give them to vote for me,” Cutter stated. “‘Nothing’, I said. ‘Vote for me because I’m going to make a difference at Le Moyne, not because I’m giving you free ice cream.’”
However, Notaro and Shelton argued that the Cutter-Kalet campaign is just as guilty of handing out free stuff to sway voters.
“The other candidates handed out T-shirts,” Notaro and Shelton pointed out. “How is that any different than what we did?”
All the same, Cutter and Kalet argued that Notaro and Shelton’s ice cream truck gave them an unfair advantage over less affluent candidates.
“Neither Joe nor I could compete or come close to the same type of strategy they used,” Cutter stated. “In reality, it takes off of what the campaign really should have been about, which was what the candidates stand for, not how much money they have and not about whether or not they give free things to the voters for votes.”
Notaro and Shelton responded that in the SGA’s current constitution, there is no limit on how much a candidate or party can spend. The constitution only states that candidates can return campaigning receipts to the office of Campus Life and Leadership for a reimbursement of up to $10.
“We understand there is no cap limit in the constitution right now…but that was less of the grievance and more of something that needs to be changed in our constitution,” Kalet stated.
Cutter and Kalet added that they would like to see other campaign rules more strictly enforced as well.
According to the SGA constitution, campaign posters and other publicity may only be placed in the stairwells and on bulletin boards in classroom buildings and residence halls.
However, on election day, students could find campaign signs all over campus, from posters in the cafeteria to paintings on campus building windows.
The constitution also states that candidates cannot hang posters within 25 feet of polls.
On election day, a Notaro-Shelton campaign poster hung right above the polls for about half an hour before someone took it down.
“Dennis [Carringi, SGA president] never took down their poster that was hanging right above the polling booth,” Cutter stated. “One of my suitemates pointed it out and asked them to take it down long after the polls had opened.”
Up until March 28, Cutter and Kalet’s campaign was advertised primarily through the use of Facebook. On election day, they hung signs next to the Notaro-Shelton paintings on windows that said “Vote for Nick and Joe. They don’t paint on windows.”
These signs were also in violation of the constitution’s campaigning rules that they mentioned in their grievance.
An election committee met to review the party’s grievance on Saturday, March 31. This committee ruled against Cutter and Kalet and decided that no reelection would take place.
However, just after the committee’s decision was announced, John Haley, one of SGA’s moderators, ruled the committee’s decision invalid.
The committee only consisted of three people, while the constitution states that it must include five members. Moreover, the committee’s chair, secretary Erica White, was not present and was replaced by speaker of the house Kathleen McCarthy.
Cutter and Kalet met with Haley on Tuesday, April 3, to discuss the election and the possibility of a reelection. After a long discussion, Cutter and Kalet decided not to pursue a reelection.
“We had a lot of reasons [not to pursue a reelection],” Cutter stated. “We didn’t know if the election results would be any different. Lots of students only voted for us that day because they were mad about Sebastian and Jules’ campaigning. Maybe that would’ve blown over with a reelection.”
“We were really running for the students, not for us,” Kalet added. “We only filed a grievance because so many students asked us to. Eventually people started getting their emotions involved and it just became too much. We’re both friends with Jules and Sebastian so we just wanted to keep it civil. It just wasn’t worth it in the end.”
Cutter and Kalet both removed their names from the senior representative ballot, therefore excluding themselves from SGA for next year.
“I decided not to run again because I felt it would be difficult to hear my opinion next year,” Kalet said. “I also did not want to go through another election because I felt there were already great candidates running for the class rep positions and I wanted them to win the positions.”
Similarly, Cutter said, “Personally I decided to not run again because I know how SGA runs, I know how it has run and I have a pretty good idea as to how its is going to run in the future. I ran for president so that I could change how SGA runs, to make it represent the student opinion more accurately and so that it could do a better job in helping the students. I don’t feel that I will be able to [do that] in any great degree next year as a representative.”
Even so, Notaro and Shelton stated that they plan to look into the party’s concerns with the election process and make changes or clarifications in the constitution if necessary.
“We have told the both of them we are committed to examining the election procedures of the constitution once we are in office as to hopefully address some of the concerns they brought up,” said Notaro.
However, some students have remained unsatisfied about the election’s results.
Sophomore Liam Morrison said that because of the long registration wait on CampusGroups, he and many of his friends never got the opportunity to vote, and they would like a reelection to voice their opinions.
“We had an election that does not accurately reflect the views of the student body and for that reason alone, I believe there needs to be a reelection,” Morrison said. “I’ve heard talk of a petition for a re-run and I will sign it with pride and encourage as many as possible to do the same.”
Notaro and Shelton stated that students with issues or concerns are more than welcome to contact them at anytime.
“We encourage anyone with concerns or questions to come talk with us. We are truly dedicated to the student body, and hope we can demonstrate that by clearing all of this up,” Notaro added.
Students with questions, comments or concerns about the election and the candidates can contact SGA members on their website at lemoyne.campusgroups.com/SGA. Students are also welcome to attend their weekly meetings each Wednesday at 9 p.m. in 408 Grewen Hall.