An open letter of experience from Asha Aden (‘20) and Sam Kottke (‘20) to the student body

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On April 18, Student Senate voted to reject our application for student body president and vice president with finality. Throughout this final appeal, the decision was blurred into one about our presidency, about establishment rules and regulation, and an evaluation of our quality as leaders. During the discussion many members criticized the appeal we were making because we were “too emotional.” They have rules and they must adhere to them. Well, if we’re being too emotional, then here is our full emotional appeal:

We are leaders on this campus, and we care about our peers. We preside over groups structured around inclusivity and student activism such as Black Student Union and the fraternity Zeta Tau Psi. Therefore, our decision to run on a ticket together is based on our passion for making the college a more inclusive, progressive place for all people. We intended on utilizing the power of student body president and vice president to empower campus in action beyond mere verbal commitment to progressive policies. We have dreams for campus and motivation for making the change we want to see.

On the same night we decided to run, we began to collect electronic signatures. We needed 48 signatures to run, and we collected exactly 48 signatures. The application states: “Completed applications and support sheets for all Senate positions are due in the Student Life Office, Union 2nd floor, by 4:00 p.m. on April 9th for President/Vice President applicants.” Because the application specifies “President/Vice President” we figured that we needed to turn in only one application. On the rest of the application, the only place it emphasized “being separate” anywhere was in the separate biographies we had to submit. We turned in the full application before the deadline.

Later that day — after the deadline — chair of the Election Committee Wyatt Anians, found Asha and told her to correct our application. He said that she must turn in a separate presidential application and that electronic signatures were unacceptable (which the application specifies nowhere). Asha was able to obtain forty-eight handwritten signatures in less than twenty minutes. However, she completed this around 6:00 p.m. Shortly after that, we received an email about campaign rules and who was running on the ticket, a confirmation of our candidacy.

The next day, we received another email from the Election Committee that stated our application was suddenly under review. In short, a Student Senate member complained because they believed we were given an extension on our application, and thus the Election Committee was required to review it. The next day, we received an email that our application was rejected. We were devastated. We were then able to meet with members of the Election Committee and the President of Student Senate to better understand why it was rejected. They had reviewed our application in its original form, not the form we turned in at 6:00 pm. We were granted an appeal of their decision.

Returning to Student Senate, the matter they were deciding on was simple. We wanted the Election Committee to evaluate our application in its completed form (based on Student Senate standards), not as we originally submitted the application. In the Student Senate Bylaws, it states that “Late applications are to be reviewed by the Election Committee.” There is precedent for our request. Student Senate decided differently.

Ultimately, their decision was made before we walked into the room. From the very beginning, they wanted to make it difficult for our candidacy, and find any way to end our application. We are outsiders to Student Senate. They found a trivial problem with our application, and decided the small mistakes we made were grounds for disqualifying us. In making their decision, we were criticized for being too emotional, not being timely, and being unprofessional. They were evaluating our quality as leaders and passed judgement on our presidency, not our appeal. The bias throughout this process has been utterly ridiculous, and we have lost faith in Student Senate’s ability to support and represent the student body. You decide for yourself if their decision was right… Oh wait, you can’t, Student Senate made that decision for you… We almost forgot.

Signed:

Sam Kottke (‘20)

Asha Aden (‘20)

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chips or organizations with which the author(s) are associated.

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