Election results for the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) 2015-2016 E-Board were announced Wednesday at the GSO’s last senate meeting of the semester.
Shengsheng Zhou, a doctoral candidate in Binghamton University’s Translation Research and Instruction Program (TRIP), was named as the new president. Winning by a margin of 6.5 percent, Zhou earned a total of 49 percent of votes, while her opponent Mohammad Shokrollahzadeh received 42.5 percent.
Ben Marley, a seventh-year graduate student studying sociology, ran unopposed for vice president and earned 68.12 percent of the votes. Also running unopposed, Sarah Marcus was elected Graduate Vice President of Multicultural Affairs (GVPMA) with 65.12 percent.
Elections were scheduled for the beginning of April but were pushed back due to controversy over candidate misconduct. On April 3, Shokrollahzadeh was accused of abusing campaigning laws. The GSO Elections Committee sent an email to the entire graduate student body, saying Shokrollahzdeh illegally advertised his campaign before he was an official candidate.
According to Haneen Ali, GSO treasurer of the Systems, Science and Industrial Engineering department, the email attacked both Shokrollahzadeh’s political campaign and personal merit, which potentially damaged his chances at winning the election.
Zhou, Marley and Marcus ran as a team, which meant the three candidates endorsed each other. They discussed plans for the 2015-2016 school year and collaborated their platforms before the elections create cohesive goals.
The new E-board’s plans involve bringing various graduate student groups together to coordinate events instead of having one organization in charge. This would allow for more freedom of funds and a less substantial drop in a single organization’s budget.
About 361 graduate students voted in the election, which is slightly over ten percent of the graduate student body. Allison Coombs, the current GSO president and a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in philosophy, said this is standard turnout, but encouraged more students to both vote and run in the future.
“Graduate students need support,” Coombs said. “We want to represent them the best we can, but we need them to voice their ideas in order for us to do that.”