As we wait for election results, hope for a better, stronger SG

David Engleman

At 6:30 p.m. on March 3, I was supposed to do the best and last part of my job: announce the results of campus-wide elections. By that evening, it was already clear that Graduate Student Assembly executive alliance election results could not be certified. By 8 p.m., it was clear that Student Government executive alliance election results could not be certified. This sparked a now week-long whirlwind of confusion, speculation and, worst of all, disappointment. Though graduate students now know who their representatives will be, the results of the SG executive alliance election have yet to be released — even I have not taken a look at them. As we look into the future to determine the fate of the SG executive alliance election, we ought to start with the facts.

The SG executive alliance election results, like all election results, can only be certified by the chair of the Election Supervisory Board (that’s me) and the Dean of Students (Soncia Reagins-Lilly). After hours of deliberation, we concluded that the results of the SG executive alliance election could not be certified because due process may have been violated. The supposed violation (the Chief Justice of the SG Supreme Court attended ESB hearings, which were later appealed to the SG Supreme Court) was news to the ESB, the SG Supreme Court and complainants and respondents alike. That is to say, none of us had any idea this was not allowed. So little did the ESB know that this was not allowed (this prohibition is not mentioned in the Election codes or SG Constitution) that the Chief Justice of the SG Supreme Court was invited to attend ESB hearings, and multiple justices had attended ESB hearings in last year’s election cycle as well. Nevertheless, on the advice of the Dean of Students, certification of results is delayed until the ESB can confirm that any such violation of due process had no impact on the outcome of the SG executive alliance election. If this investigative process determines that the violation of due process had an impact on the outcome of the SG executive alliance election, the current results will not be certified, and a new election will take place.

In light of these events, there has been great confusion and speculation surrounding the SG Supreme Court. Possible bias on the part of individuals with judicial authority should be taken seriously. But because such violations are so serious, accusations of bias should not be made lightly. Such accusations have been made lightly — without regard to facts or evidence — and the reputations of honest, hardworking and fair Longhorns have been sullied as a result. Even a cursory review of the SG Supreme Court’s rulings and advisory opinions proves that the Election codes and SG Constitution were applied rigorously and fairly. My greatest hope is that we return to a sense of trust and goodwill toward every member of the University community. Student Government is only as strong as its elections. We all can, and must, do better.

Engleman is a Plan II and English senior from Austin. He is the chair of the 2016 Election Supervisory Board. Follow him on Twitter @DREngleman.