Student body election results ratified at joint GSA-Senate meeting

The Undergraduate Student Senate and the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) met in a joint session on April 6 to ratify the results of the Student Body Elections. Though the meeting was slated to start at 5 p.m., the start was delayed because less than 51 percent of voting members were in attendance until about 5:15 p.m.

The meeting opened with some orders of business from GSA, and then the election results were presented. Petitions for those interested in running opened Feb. 18 at noon and closed March 4 at noon. The rules meeting was held at 5 p.m. on March 16 and candidate platforms were due on March 26. Elections were open from March 30 at 2:30 p.m. to April 4 at 2:30 p.m. The Elections Board (EB) certified the elections on April 4, which led to the ratification on April 6.

During the presentation, it was noted there were a few issues with voting this year. Some students had reported they were not able to access or sign petitions using a mobile device. This issue was reportedly fixed Feb. 24. Additionally, the voting period had to be extended by two hours due to the DNS registry for the elections being taken off Carnegie Mellon’s network on March 30, which had caused a two hour delay to the elections opening.

The last issue was that no candidate had signed up to run for Student Body Vice President for Organizations (SBVPO) shortly before the petition deadline, so EB voted unanimously to suspend the requirements for this election. The requirements stated that a student who runs for SBVPO must have served at least one term as a student leader, served at least one term on the Committee on Student Organizations, or have served at least one term on the University Center Allocations Board.

There was a 12 percent turnout of students for the election, the highest since 2017. Seventeen percent of undergraduate students and six percent of graduate students voted in the election. Candidates needed at least one percent of votes from graduate students and undergraduates, respectively, to be eligible for the position. This is applied in each round and a candidate who has not reached that minimum would be eliminated over one who had.

If any candidate were to receive a penalty in their campaign, the penalty would be applied as a scaling factor every round that a candidate received them. There were four reports of campaign violations. The first was a report against an Instagram post made by the Salazar-Song campaign which claimed that the Chan-Abrams campaign did not discuss campus sexual assault and feminist issues during the Student Body President (SBP) debates. EB determined this post did not constitute slander or libel of another candidate or campaign team, so no penalty was awarded.

The next report was against the Chan-Abrams campaign, which cited that one of their Instagram posts could be slanderous to other candidates. EB determined this was not the case and no penalty was awarded.

The third report was an allegation of voter bribery against SBVPO candidate Daphne Han. Han held a giveaway of a long cat plushie that EB determined was worth $14, which is under the limit of the $25 maximum for gifts to voters. As such, no penalty was awarded. Another report was filed in regards to the same giveaway, which alleged improper communication of the Han campaign. The report stated the collection of Andrew IDs as part of the giveaway may be misused later. As voters are allowed to give their contact information to candidates and individual contact is permissible under elections rules, the EB did not award a penalty.

Voting was conducted via single transferable vote. This means if someone chooses a candidate who doesn't win the election after the first round of counting and no other candidate meets the requirements to win, the candidate with the least amount of votes will have them distributed to the other candidates who were the voters' second choice. If a candidate, however, fails to meet a requirement like not getting one percent of the graduate vote, they are eliminated from contention prior to someone who has less votes but meets the voting requirement. This will continue for several "rounds" of counting until a victor is declared.

For the Student Body President (SBP) and Student Body Vice President (SBVP) elections, candidates Natalie Salazar and Joan Song were elected as SBP and SBVP, respectively. A total of 1,190 ballots were cast in the election, with candidates needing at least 596 total votes and 72 grad student votes. After 11 rounds of counting, they were declared the winners. Vote totals did not change until round seven when write-in candidates were eliminated. Notably, the Chan-Abrams campaign was eliminated in round 10 of counting before no confidence votes, as they did not secure the 72 grad student votes needed. There was a difference of five votes between Salazar-Song and Chan-Abrams prior to Chan-Abrams' elimination.

For Student Body Vice President for Finance (SBVPF), candidate Clarissa Liang was immediately declared the victor due to being ranked first in more than 50 percent of all ballots cast, and her reaching the minimum vote percentage. Five hundred seventy two ballots were cast; Liang needed 287 total votes and 72 grad student votes to win. She received 104 grad student votes and 526 total votes.

In the SBVPO contest, candidate Lucia Fang was declared the winner after five rounds of counting. Out of 1,043 ballots cast, a candidate needed at least 522 total votes and 72 grad student votes to be declared the winner. Initially, Fang had 386 votes, Han had 347 votes, and Urvish Thakker had 293 votes. The rest were no confidence or write-in candidates. Though Han had more total votes than Thakker, she was eliminated in round three due to not having enough grad student votes. No confidence votes were eliminated next, followed by Thakker, leaving Fang as the winner of the race.

Six candidates ran for seven seats for School of Computer Science Senators. Winners include Medha Palavalli, Han, James Gallicchio, Claire Jin, William Gay, and Brad Zhang. 10 candidates ran for 12 Senate seats in the College of Engineering. Doreen Valmyr, Bojun Sun, Anthony Lindemann, Rose McDermott, Prithu Pareek, Ryan Lin, Lawrence Onyango, Jeanie Xu, Aneesha Bhattacharjee, and Mason Xiao will be holding these positions. Four candidates ran for six seats in the College of Fine Arts. Ethan Johnson, Lake Lewis, Matthew Rygelski, and Andrea Wan were elected to the positions. Seven candidates ran for 10 seats for Dietrich College Senators. Those elected included Jacky Gao, Matthew Visco, Saloni Gandhi, Kyle Hynes, Silas Wang, Fang, and Diana Crookston. Four candidates ran for six seats within the Mellon College of Science; Pearl Franz, Aramchan Lee, Victoria Liu, and Neha Murthy will be taking these seats. Within the Tepper School of Business, five candidates ran for five seats. As no confidence received more votes than one of the candidates, Alexandria Donohue, Briana Chen, Elizabeth Fu, and Timmy Cheung were elected. For the BXA & SHS seat, there were three candidates and Himalini Guruaj was elected to the seat.

Following the presentation of the votes, the floor was opened to questions and discussion which would be followed by a ratification of the election by the Senate and GSA. An undergraduate senator made a motion to ratify the election of SBVPO separately, stating that he felt the candidate who won was unqualified for the position since she didn’t meet the requirements to run for the position. However, as EB had lifted the requirements for a candidate to run for SBVPO this semester, Fang was able to run even if she didn’t meet any of the requirements that the position would typically have. After some discussion between the Senate and GSA, the Senate voted 8-9-1 to split off the ratification of the SBVPO election. Since the motion did not pass the Senate, GSA did not vote on the motion. The Senate and GSA then moved to ratify the election. The Senate voted 16-1-1 to ratify the election and GSA voted 59-1-0 to ratify.