SGA president-elect under investigation

by Beacon Staff • April 5, 2006

Jamal Barone, a junior marketing communication major who received the majority of votes for Student Government Association (SGA) executive president in last week's election, is undergoing a campaign investigation to determine whether or not he can assume the office, according to SGA Elections Commissioner Brad Dye.

The investigation was determined necessary after Barone's opponent and SGA Chief Justice David Vaughan filed a charge against him, said Dye, a senior organizational and political communication major.

Dye would not specify what the charge was or what the investigation will include.

"We will conduct a fair and expedient investigation," Dye said.

There are a number of violations that could result in a candidate being disqualified, but there is no precedent for what calls for disqualification, he said.

"It will be up to the judgment of the people who hold the hearing," Dye said.

Associate Dean of Students Sharon Duffy will preside over Barone's hearing after she and Dye informally collect testimony, Dye said.

The investigation could have a number of outcomes, including a finding of no wrongdoing, a finding of wrongdoing not resulting in disqualification or a finding of wrongdoing that does result in disqualification. In that case, runner-up Vaughan, a junior organizational and political communication major, would be named SGA president, Dye said at Tuesday's SGA meeting.

While the office of president is contested, the SGA did elect a new executive board that includes Executive Vice President-elect Andy Michaels, a junior TV/video major, and Executive Treasurer-elect Emily Patrick, a junior writing, literature and publishing major.

The office of SGA president was the only contested position; all other offices had only one ballot candidate or were open only to write-in candidates, Dye said.

Current SGA President Kirstin Daniel, a senior theatre education major, has told The Beacon that increasing voter turnout and spreading awareness about SGA were her main priorities this year. About 350 ballots were cast for executive president last week, while 509 ballots were cast for the same office last spring.

Daniel said the SGA formulated a good election plan, which included a candidate debate night, posters and advertising, but felt it was not executed to its fullest potential.

Freshman film major Sal Valone said the SGA's efforts did not result in on-campus awareness.

"I didn't even know we had elections," Valone said.

Dye said the low number of ballots cast reflected the lack of contested positions.

"Voter turnout was what I anticipated," he said. "It was consistent with the level of candidate participation."

SGA Press Secretary John Hanlon, a senior organizational and political communication major, said he hopes that more people will be interested in running in the future because of the more consolidated campus.

Daniel agreed that being in closer proximity to more students and organizations will help SGA.

"We'll definitely be more accessible to students," she said. Also, with the office alongside other organizations' offices, SGA will be able to get to know students better because entire groups will more likely come to meetings, rather than just a few representatives, Daniel said. SGA currently meets in the Student Union at 96 Beacon St.

SGA Executive Vice President-elect Andy Michaels said that he looks forward to presiding over the SGA Senate, which includes class and department senators.

"I feel that the SGA Senate is a really untapped resource to get things done," he said.

Michaels said he hopes to utilize the potential of the Senate next year by working with Earth Emerson and continuing to campaign for more print credits. Michaels also wants to increase senators' duties.

"I want a policy of getting the senators more involved with the organizations of the departments they represent," Michaels said.

By becoming more involved with their constituents, the senators will know ahead of time when organizations plan to appeal for funding, which will help SGA find them co-sponsorships and make the appeals process easier, Michaels said.

Barone said he believes the SGA will not find a violation when it investigates his campaign.

"To my knowledge, what I did was not unethical," he said.

If he is determined eligible to serve as president, Barone said he hopes to focus more on student safety by inviting the city's police commissioner to campus to talk and answer questions.

"I'm giving SGA back to the students," he said, which he plans to achieve through more publicity and a monthly informational forum for students to learn about SGA. "I want to have a lot of fun with it, and bring a sense of school spirit and pride [to Emerson]," Barone said.