Willa Scolari, a junior majoring in psychology, unexpectedly resigned from her Binghamton University Council representative position last week, prompting discussion on finding her successor.
The position is the only student representation of both undergraduate and graduate students on the BU Council, a body of nine unpaid members appointed by NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo that review the University’s operations. On Sept. 24, the Student Association (SA) Speaker of Congress Ross Mesnick, a junior majoring in business administration, announced in an email to SA members that Scolari, who assumed the position after winning the election last spring, resigned from her post.
“As of last night the [BU] Council representative resigned her position, therefore making it necessary to hold a special election within 15 semester class days to fill the vacancy,” Mesnick wrote. “As a result, the Elections and Judiciary Committee will need to begin its work earlier than it has in the past and in order to do that it needs to have a full committee.”
Scolari did not respond to Pipe Dream’s request for comment.
The Election and Judiciary Committee needs to have seven individuals. However, as of Sept. 24, they only had three, meaning the committee had to speed election processes to meet the SA guideline of 15 semester days from notification of vacancy to fill the seat. On Sept. 30, letters of intent for the position were due at 5 p.m. to be submitted via email to the committee.
In order to be eligible for candidacy after the letter of intent, 250 signatures are required from the student body with a deadline of Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. A student may not sign their name for two separate candidates. That same day at 5:15 p.m., candidates will have a meeting.
On Oct. 9, there will be a debate for the candidates to showcase their platforms. On Oct. 12, students will be able to vote for their preferred representative with elections taking place via B-Engaged from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The candidate will be chosen prior to the next BU Council Meeting on Oct. 16.
According to SA Chair of the Elections and Judiciary Committee Megan Fey, a senior majoring in biochemistry, students have been notified of the upcoming election process.
“All students should have received emails from our SA-Line [Newsletter] via SA Marketing and Promotions announcing the vacancy and what the position entails,” Fey wrote in an email. “The email was sent out on Sept. 24th with the subject line being ‘Special Election: BU Council Student Representative.’”
According to Fey, five students had submitted letters of intent by 4:55 p.m. Wednesday night. SA Internal Affairs Chair Josh Danziger, a junior majoring in accounting, said Fey and SA Congress is able to carry out this unforeseen election.
“Our elections chair [Fey] is a hard worker and I have full confidence in her ability to get things done,” Danziger wrote. ”She was one of my most active [Internal Affairs] Committee members and has shown how hard she can work. Although Congress and the [Elections and Judiciary Committee] is young, I have no doubt that they are prepared for the task at hand”
Danziger also stressed the importance of filling the vacant position.
“The job is an important one and has a direct affect on the student body as well as the community surrounding the school,” Danziger wrote. “I hope for the next representative to be excited for the opportunity to affect change and ready for the work it takes to accomplish tasks. There’s a lot in the world that needs changing right now and this is an awesome opportunity to affect change on a large scale at our age.”
Andreea Popovici, a senior double-majoring in accounting and business administration, said she was not aware of the election, despite the email sent out to all BU students.
“I think this schedule is rather quick, since not a lot of students have heard about this,” Popovici wrote. “I guess I’m looking for a candidate who is willing to speak up about certain things in our society, especially at [BU].”
Liam J. Fitch, a senior double-majoring in cinema and English, is looking for different features in a candidate.
“I can only speak for myself, so I will say that I do not want a leader, I do not want a symbol or an icon,” Fitch wrote. “I want a diligent representative who has nothing better going on in their life. I want the person to be unknown and their actions unnoticed, so that popularity, reward and pride can play no part in their representation of the student body.”
Fitch went on to say that ve thought the election was a “joke.”
“There is no tangible incentive to vote and no substance between ‘candidates’ to debate,” Fitch wrote. “I think there will be an extremely low turnout on voting because of these reasons. It’s futile to establish a figurehead of your class when your class has no true community values. I want the privilege to pursue my intellectual interests with guidance from credited experts in their field, undisturbed by the University’s internal politics.”
The link for voting day on Oct. 12 will be sent to students at a later date.