Three candidates file in the special election for new SG president
Voting starts Monday, and results will be announced on Thursday
Update: This article has been updated since it was first published with information about the presidential candidates' platforms and comments from Hope Morency and Gary Lal.
This week, three candidates are running in the special election for Student Government president, following the resignation of former President Nikola Jok on June 27.
The nomination convention was held on July 19, resulting in three candidates: Eric Brock, Class of 2022; Hope Morency, Class of 2021; and Gary Lal, Class of 2021. Voting and campaigning are entirely online.
“The special election process will look similar to the spring election,” said SG Elections Commissioner Sarah Gordon. According to Gordon, voters will also elect a new council for the School of Education.
As designated by the AUSG constitution, the special election must be held within 30 days of the president’s resignation. Preparations began on July 10, when a virtual information session took place.
Voting will occur online via Campus Labs, from July 27 to July 30, with the results being announced on July 30 at 9 p.m. EST.
“Quite frankly, the transition was natural to going online,” Gordon said. “Even before COVID-19 struck and we were sent home, a lot of the procedure was moved online.”
The nomination convention was moved to an online format in the spring of 2019, according to then-Elections Commissioner Eamon Vahidi.
Given the circumstances, many students have expressed concerns regarding the timing of the election and whether voter turnout will decrease following increased participation in the spring.
“Voting is done best online as well. It ensures all eligible AU students are able to access the ballot in order to vote,” Gordon said. “It'll be a matter of publicizing electoral information through social media channels and whatnot to inform the student body and keep them in the loop.”
Candidates are concerned about the circumstances of this election as well. Brock, who lost the presidential election in the spring, said he is worried about how the remote procedure will impact voting.
“I think there’s gonna be a low voter turnout,” Brock said. “This is probably the worst opportunity to have an election. I think there’s a lack of representation, especially when you’re holding a special election ... sometimes students don’t have access to Wi-Fi or laptops.”
Morency and Lal did not respond to a request for comment.
Brock is running on a platform addressing social Greek life abolition and changing how the Title IX office works to protect survivors and create transparency. He also plans to repurpose the Student Involvement Fund and other available AUSG funds to use as a discretionary grant for students. Brock hopes to establish student oversight of AUPD, reform mental health resources and expand funding for Black and Latinx studies.
Lal’s platform includes ensuring Title IX adherence and combat racial inequality through training programs for students. He also hopes to expand the meal swipe donation program, widen academic support, create supportive mental health resources and programs, and bolster financial support for low-income students.
“One main goal I believe I've come to the conclusion of over the past few days is changing the perspective of students of AUSG and our campus to set things up now and for the future of AU,” Lal said regarding his campaign, in which he aims to build a “more equitable AU.”
Morency hopes to address sexual assault on campus, specifically within the Greek life, she wrote in a Facebook post in the AU Class of 2021 group. She hopes to add a complaint form to the AU Fraternity and Sorority Life website that allows students to file an action against a specific organization, according to her campaign Instagram page.
A large portion of Morency’s campaign goals focus on student finances, particularly in advocating for those who face uncertainty and difficult decisions when it comes to paying for school.
“I am realistic and I know it will be a tough battle with administration, knowing that AU is also struggling financially, but if they want our support and our money, they need to do better,” she said.