Just as it took over one month to resolve the 2000 Presidential election, GUSA spent nearly one month to certify the freshman election results, but both debacles were eventually resolved. The Student Association approved the freshman election results last Wednesday, Oct. 30, almost one month after the election winners ike Barrett (COL ’06), Octavio Gonzalez (COL ’06), ariana Kihuen (COL ’06) and Dan Monico (COL ’06), were announced on Oct. 1.

Complaints submitted to GUSA’s Constitutional Council included allegations of derogatory racial comments made about candidates and torn down fliers, as well as confusion over a potential primary election, a candidate debate, mishandling of election complaints and a100-word candidate e-mail to students.

“I received no formal complaints during the election cycle, but candidates and Assembly members believed events may have happened which could have changed the results, so we tabled the results pending further investigation,” Election Commissioner Ramya Murali (SFS ’03).

Such events included derogatory racial statements, Kihuen said. “Various GU organizations filled the GUSA meetings in search of an investigation regarding the elections; therefore a postponement of the approval of the election results,” she said.

“The student body was enraged by [the alleged comments] and believed it necessary to investigate this racial issue, because no one wants insensitive people representing their needs. GUSA believed it necessary to postpone the approval so the investigation [could] clarify these issues,” Kihuen said.

Although the complaints were forwarded to the Constitutional Council, the issue of racially insensitive remarks was outside of the jurisdiction of the council, according to Constitutional Council Chair Bill McGonigle (SFS ’03).

“Both the matters of the supposed skirmish between certain parties outside New South Cafeteria and the matter of derogatory comments being made within a lounge are not issues for the Constitutional Council. Such matters are violation of the Codes of Conduct and therefore not the responsibility of this body,” a written statement by the council said.

Sophomore Representative Luis Torres (COL ’05) said the Office of Student Conduct was responsible for addressing formal complaints dealing with race and ethnicity.

“There will be some language clarification done to deal with confusion by the candidates about having the debate,” artha Swanson, director of the Office of Student Programs, said. “Other concerns were not really violations of the bylaws. Tearing down fliers and students making comments about other students can’t be dealt with by election bylaws.”

Other issues raised in the post-election aftermath included the lack of a candidate debate, confusion regarding a 100-word candidate statement e-mail to voters, the possibility of a primary and subsequent run-off election and a mishandling of complaints by the election commission.

None of these issues, however, were submitted in a formal complaint to the Constitutional Council and no concrete action was taken.

GUSA officials said they decided the best way to respond to the issues was through a comprehensive review and possible reform of the election process.

“Many election problems would have been solved by reading the election bylaws,” McGonigle said. He cited confusion over a possible primary as one concern that could have been avoided by examining the bylaws. “[T]here were questions raised about having a primary because of the volume of candidates, yet a primary is unnecessary according to the bylaws, which state that there must be 15 candidates as a minimum to consider holding a primary. This race had only 11 candidates,” he said.

“There is room for positive growth as a result of the issues raised over the election,” Murali said. “Hopefully, we will see bylaw reforms to cover the mistakes of this election.” Murali said the bylaws would be reviewed in coming weeks.

The unusually long delay in the certification was because of the need to make sure the election had been conducted fairly. “It was more procedure than anything that delayed the certification of the results,” Gonzalez said.

“The process was a learning experience for both the concerned parties and the Constitutional Council,” Kihuen said. “I remain hopeful that incidents such as the ones that occurred do not repeat themselves, but I believe that if they do occur again, all parties involved will be better able to respond to any problems that may arise. Although to some it may have been a rocky start we – GUSA, the Constitutional Council and concerned parties – will be able to deal with these matters much more constructively.”

New assembly members seemed eager to begin their term in office, despite the confusion and controversy of the election. “I am very glad that the elections have been certified because the freshman class has been without representation for months now,” Monico said.

“In the interest of GUSA, the students concerned with the election results didn’t resubmit complaints after their initial review,” Gonzalez said. “It is in the best interest of GUSA to get freshman students seated and return to business as usual.”

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