September 11, 2000

Eight students' SGA election candidacy applications rejected

by Josh Renaud
staff editor

Eight of the 14 students who filed for candidacy in the upcoming Student Government Association elections were rejected by a screening committee last Thursday.

On Friday, officials mailed notification to each of the 14 students of their status. The rejected candidates will each get a chance to appeal the committee's decision this Wednesday, said RIck Blanton, SGA adviser.

After the appeals hearing is completed, the screening committee will decide if they wish to overturn any of the application rejections. They will notify candidates of their status on Wednesday.

The screening committee is made up of "five students representing the demographics and the interests of student government and the University," Blanton said. "It's being coordinated by the president of the Staff Association [Curtis Coonrod] and witnessed by the manager of the Alumni office."

The students on the committee "are presidents of different student organizations," Blanton said. "They're people who were not actively involved in the SGA either as officers or as being close to the scene. In other words, it's not your usual suspects. It's people you probably wouldn't recognize or associate with student government."

The screening committee primarily rejected applications for being incomplete or for containing erroneus information, Blanton said.

This is the first time a screening committee has been used in the SGA election process. The Student Court recently heard a grievance filed by Steven Wolfe contesting the legality of the screening process and found in his favor. Since then, Wolfe has taken no further action on the matter.

This controversial addition to the election process was made by members of the provisional SGA. The provisional SGA is made up of two students selected by administrators to serve as an interim governing body this summer, after the cancellation of the spring SGA elections.

Both members of the provisional SGA have filed for candidacy in the SGA elections, which some are complaining is a conflict of interest. Mary Grace Rhoda has filed for at-large representative for the College of Arts and Sciences and Ellory Glenn has filed for vice president.

Rhoda said she understands the complaints, but that she and Glenn discussed their concerns with Blanton. She said he assured them that there would be no conflict.

"We've pretty much become seperated from the screening entirely," she said. Blanton "won't tell me who's been eliminated or whatever. We weren't on the screening committee at all."

"The reason I [ran for representative] was that at 12:30 on Friday, nobody else had signed up for that position," Rhoda said. "I feel a sense of responsibility. I think it looks bad when we don't have enough students who are doing that."

To support Glenn and Rhoda, Blanton cited the example of previous SGA presidents who ran for consecutive terms, saying the only difference was that the members of the provisional were appointed in the beginning.

"If you were to look at the process and analyze it, can you see anything that's drastically different that would slant the elections to their favor?" Blanton asked. "I have nothing but praise for the things [Glenn and Rhoda] have done and the way they've done them."

This year, the polls will not be manned by students. Instead, members of the Staff Association will work each location, in an effort to solve several problems that have plagued previous SGA elections.

"We're trying not to have too many polling locations," Rhoda said. "I think last year they overextended themselves and polls were closed when they should have been. We have to make sure every one of these polling places is well-manned."

Blanton said using Staff Assocation members would eliminate the perennial accusations of favoritism or bias lodged when students manned the polls.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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