By Mawa Iqbal, 23News reporter

Missouri Students Association Senate passed a resolution to declare the 2018 MSA Presidential Election null and void, and to order a special election after spring break. Resolution 57-45 was passed with 11 yeses, zero nos, and seven abstentions during a full senate meeting Wednesday night.

After deliberation, the MSA Student Court unanimously ruled in favor of the resolution Thursday morning. The Board of Elections Commissioners released an announcement soon after on Twitter saying that due to the resignations of Claire Jacobs, Blaine Thomas and Caius Gillen, “the remaining candidates are disqualified to be on the ballot.”

 

“The court recognizes…that [the] slate must contain both Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates,” the court ruling reads. “Because each slate has had a member resign, they have in actuality resigned the slate as a whole.”

The ruling goes on to state that even if the court were to accept one-person slates, these slates still would not meet the full requirements to run in the election.

“The original slates were supported by 500 student signatures in order to file,” the ruling read. “By changing the names on the ballot, they have nullified this support as these students did not sign on to an individual candidate.”

MSA Senate Communications Director Jake Addington introduced the resolution as a petition. According to Addington, the resolution is designed to remedy the controversy surrounding the former candidates’ tweets and their resignations.

“It’s fair for both the current slates and students to have a fresh start with a special election, given what was said on Twitter,” Addington said. “Students just aren’t comfortable electing a president without a vice president.”

Addington said that given the nature of this election, a resolution like this is almost necessary.

“We did not expect the slates to tweet homophobic, racist and misogynistic things before they ran,” Addington said. “This election is different because every slate has one person, not just one or two slates.”

The petition, which received 88 student signatures in the first six hours, also called for the extension of the candidate filing date by three weeks.

BEC Chair Joe Sell pointed out the special election date cannot occur 20 days after the original election date of March 6 per BEC handbook rules This prompted concerns from several Senate members about shorter terms for the president and vice president.

“Moving the elections to after spring break will set the candidates up for failure,” Director of Student Services Justin McDonald said. “They won’t have enough time to appoint a full cabinet before summer.”

Sen. Haydn Elsey echoed a similar sentiment, saying that a “poorly picked cabinet can do as much damage as a poorly picked president or vice president.”

Addington responded to these concerns by saying that it wouldn’t matter if the terms of office end up being one month shorter if the president and vice president are “doing it for the right reasons.”

“It is vital to represent the students we serve,” Addington said.

Placing the needs of the students first was a point Addington continually stressed throughout the meeting. When asked why Addington hadn’t reached out to Julia Wopata, Thomas Cater and Chad Johnson regarding the petition, Addington maintained that the student body is the top priority.

“I think fairness to the individuals who are running is not what matters, I think fairness to the student body is what matters,” Addington said.

However, Wopata was present during the senate meeting. She asked everyone to be “a little more forgiving” in regard to the controversial tweets and their aftermath.

“I agree it’s confusing, but I think it’s a disservice to students If we push the election off further,”  Wopata said. “Students are going to become disinterested or too busy in their academic work.”

Addington maintains that his resolution is what’s best for the students. Recognizing that MSA doesn’t accurately represent the student body, Addington hopes the implementation of this resolution will move MSA one step closer to solving that issue.

“On paper we represent the students, but in practice we do not,” Addington said. “Changing the date of the election is a way to more adequately represent the students. We have made progress in our role in representing the students at Mizzou and that could not make me more proud.”

To see the full senate meeting, please visit MUTV23 on Facebook.

Edited by Isabel Lohman | iplp54@mail.missouri.edu

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