SGA results promise a good year to come

By Stefan Herlitz

Sïonan Barrett and Chantal Barbosa. (Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)
Sïonan Barrett and Chantal Lima Barbosa. (Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

If you read The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, have any social media accounts or simply attend the University of Massachusetts, you’ve more than likely heard information regarding this year’s Student Government Association election.

Voting took place March 10 to 12 on the UMass Campus Pulse website and the ballot contained the SGA presidential/vice presidential election, the student trustee election and several ballot initiatives. More than 3,400 students voted in the election, along with 194 graduate students who were allowed to vote for the student trustee.

All three ballot initiatives – MASSPIRG’s waivable $11 fee, a $6 increase to the Student Activities Fund Fee and a $7 increase to the student health fee – passed more than 2-to-1 in favor. Emily O’Neil was elected student trustee with nearly twice the votes of any of the other five candidates.

The SGA presidential/vice presidential election, however, was much closer. The top two tickets, Barrett/ Barbosa and Kelly/Gay, received 1,373 (1,370 plus three write-ins) and 1,369 votes respectively. A source from Campus Pulse explained that the three write-in votes for Barrett/Barbosa resulted from people who did not seem to recognize the uncommon spelling of Sïonan Barrett’s first name, which is pronounced the same as “Shannon,” and thus wrote in other spellings of her name rather than check the box next to her name.

The closeness of the election, however, doesn’t change the result: Barrett and Chantal Lima Barbosa will be sworn in on April 20 as the new SGA president and vice president, pending the Elections Commission’s resolution of any outstanding complaints and the election’s ratification by the SGA Senate.

Unlike last year, no major complaints have yet been reported and no candidates were invalidated for egregious rules violations, so no one currently has any valid grounds to contest this outcome.

In true SGA elections tradition however, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard feelings. Of course, this is understandable to some extent, as losing any election feels terrible, let alone one so incredibly close. Though every candidate and referendum I voted for this time around won, this is still a feeling with which I can personally sympathize, having not only lost last year’s SGA presidential election but also the previous year’s SGA speaker election. The latter was to none other than Barrett.

In the coming days and weeks there will be cold feelings and icy interactions, perhaps accompanied by a couple Collegian articles and blog posts looking to find some injustice in this democratic election – but ultimately tempers will thaw and all will go back to normal.

Despite early doubts stemming from last year’s election fallout, in which the winning ticket was invalidated, the SGA has done excellent work this year. Student representatives have been afforded a greater influence and clout in major decision-making than ever before and individuals within the SGA have pursued and succeeded in a wide variety of initiatives to improve every student’s experience at UMass.

Though there remains much work to be done, particularly in regards to communication with the student body, I am confident that under the leadership of Barrett, Lima Barbosa and O’Neil, the SGA will be able to build on this year’s successes, learn from past failures and cultivate a new generation of strong, active student leadership.

My only regret is that I, due to looming graduation, won’t be around to see it.

Stefan Herlitz is a Collegian Columnist and can be reached at [email protected]