SGA plans student trustee special election

The SGA will run a special election in April to elect a new Student Trustee.

Shilpa+Sweth+%2F+Daily+Collegain+

Shilpa Sweth / Daily Collegain

By Sophie Hauck, Collegian Contributor

The University of Massachusetts Student Government Association gathered on Wednesday evening to field questions about the upcoming special election for student trustee.

Earlier this month, UMass students voted to elect a new Student Trustee during the spring election. The SGA Elections Commission has since nullified the Student Trustee election results and will organize a special election after discovering a procedural error in the race for Student Trustee concerning nomination signatures.

After a procedural error was discovered regarding nomination signatures for the student trustee, the SGA Elections Commission nullified the election results and will organize a special election.

Candidates for student trustee must collect nomination signatures from 250 verified UMass students in order to earn their place on the election ballot. The Commission verifies signatures by searching every name in the university’s “People Finder” search engine.

Liam Harney of the Commission explained to senators that when one student trustee candidate delivered their signature forms to the Commission, the students responsible for verifying these signatures underreported the number of signatures the candidate collected.

“[The Commission] counted every single signature that was there and verified them, but then it assumed that the 26 [signatures were] on every page rather than just the first page,” said Harney.

“We didn’t have the right number of signatures, and so we inaccurately invalidated that nomination.”

The candidate did not appear on the ballot and ran a write-in campaign for student trustee, which Harney acknowledged increased the difficulty of their race.

“It could be very easily seen that [the spring election for Student Trustee] would be unfair for the candidate that was not on the ballot,” said Harney.

SGA advisor Lydia Washington encouraged senators to amend the signature collection and verification process for future elections.

“Put this on a Google Form—no more paper signatures,” advised Washington. “Second, extend your nomination period.

“It is not fair to the Commission that they have to review all these signatures in one day,” Washington said.

“If you want the system to work, change the process, ask questions, speak with your advisors,” Washington added.

Harney told senators that the special election will take place in April, and the Commission will release more information to the SGA and student body as it becomes available.

SGA executive leadership also acknowledged two victories at UMass this week: Shayan Raza and Meher Gandhi winning the SGA Presidential and Vice Presidential election, and the UMass women’s basketball team winning the Atlantic 10 tournament.

“I’m happy to know the SGA is in good hands with all of you,” SGA Vice President Bradley Marcosa. said

SGA Speaker Julia Curto further congratulated the women’s basketball team.

“This is a big thing for UMass,” Curto said. “First in program history.”

SGA President Patrick Collins also noted the campus’s lifted mask requirements. The shift in policy comes less than one week after voting closed for the SGA spring elections, which included an advisory referendum asking students if the University should repeal its mask mandate.

On the referendum, 3,200 students voted YES, the University should repeal its mask mandate, representing 71.76 percent of voters.

“I’ve heard people assume that the reason that the mask referendum or the mask mandate ended was because of this question,” Collins said. “That is absolutely not the case.”

UMass Public Health Director Ann Becker wrote in an email to the UMass community that the new policy goes into effect “given the significantly improved public health environment of our campus and recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.”

Collins advised senators to respect their peers’ choice to wear or not wear a mask.

“Please just act with the most empathy and compassion that you can,” Collins said.

Sophie Hauck can be reached at [email protected].