By Hayes Gardner
After two rounds of voting and one disqualification, the SGA Executive Elections have come to a close. Earlier in the week, Remy Ferber ’14 was announced as Vice President for Academic Affairs-elect and last night it was revealed that Thomas Neil ’14 will be next year’s SGA President and Ope Awe ’15, Vice President for Student Affairs.
However, much of the attention during the election period was directed toward the disqualification of one of the presidential candidates.
For fifteen minutes on Monday, Chloe Griffen ’14 passed out pastries outside the dining hall, which were left over from an event in the JRC. Election Board voted to disqualify her for violating the policy against giving anything out as part of campaigning.
“Though not explicitly codified in written policy, at a meeting of all SGA Executive candidates on February 24th, the Election Board orally informed candidates that distributing campaign materials, such as buttons or trinkets, violates SGA Election policy,” an all-campus email from Election Board said.
Election Board admitted several mistakes in the email, specifically placing and not removing the tag of “DISQUALIFIED” by Griffen’s name on the PioneerWeb election results, not allowing Griffen to appeal her disqualification with ample time before the runoff election and not naming “food” as a material banned from campaign distribution.
The Election Board’s email apologized for “unintentionally drag[ging] Ms. Griffen’s name through the mud,” saying they “deeply, deeply regret both our errors in judgment and the campaign violations of the candidate.”
Griffen received about 17 percent of the vote in the first round.
As for the winners of the elections, Neil said this was an emotional win for him, after having a “pretty rough first year” at Grinnell, taking the next year off and then returning to Grinnell.
He beat Sam Offenberg ’14 60 percent to 40 percent.
“To finally succeed at Grinnell and to find an opportunity to really make an impact here, however little that impact may be, I feel very fortunate. It’s pretty moving,” he said.
Neil has in mind a variety of changes he would like to see next year.
“I definitely would like to see some improved campus unity,” Neil said. “Start building some bridges between the campuses and the communities that need to happen. I’d also like to see marijuana handled differently… through a slightly different process. I’d like to see some follow-through on the sexual assault and major strides made in multiculturalism and diversity and some strong communication and engagement from the student body facilitated by the SGA.”
He is not only excited about the changes he will make, but is prepared and excited to work with both Ferber and Awe.
“Getting a good cabinet sends a message. We’re serious. We’re going to be organized. We’re responsible. And things are going to be a little different,” he said. “I like working with people who get things done and they both get things done.”
VPAA-elect Ferber also looked forward to working with her fellow cabinet members.
“I look forward to establishing a strong and effective SGA Cabinet with my fellow elects. How the student body perceives its student government is a significant determinant of how successful that group can be on campus,” she wrote in an email to the S&B.
Ferber said she is eager to start as VPAA and to work with her fellow officers.
“In order to be effective next year, I look forward to getting started on the issues this semester. Once the Executive positions are confirmed, we will get started establishing our Cabinet and crafting an agenda for the coming academic year,” she said. “[Current VPAA] Kelsey [Scott ’13] has already been in touch with me and as this semester continues she will keep me in the loop on meetings and issues, so as to ensure consistency and a smooth transition between our terms.”
Next year’s VPSA, Awe, was honored to hear that she had won.
“To me, [this win] says that my fellow peers trust me enough to do good things for them in SGA,” she said. “It’s very humbling.”
Like Neil and Ferber, Awe said she is looking forward to working with her fellow officers. Awe and Neil live on the same floor and Ferber interviewed Awe when Awe applied to become an SA, leaving Awe with positive impressions of her fellow executives.
“I’m actually thrilled to work with them. … They seem like really intelligent, smart, capable, passionate and action-oriented people. I couldn’t ask for better people to work with,” she said.
One way Awe thinks that SGA can improve immediately is becoming more approachable to the student body.
“We need to start taking our office hours to the students, so meeting in the Grill, having a consistent dinner time in the D-Hall so that people recognize and know that this is an opportunity where they can reach out to us,” Awe said.
She named two “non-negotiables,” issues that she is devoted to.
“We need a sexual consent policy. An open, affirmative consent policy. Grinnell’s just doesn’t cut it. When you compare us to our peers, it’s actually laughable,” she said. “[And also] making sure that the administration understands the frustrations of students that are involved in the multicultural organizations.”
These issues, among others, will be looked into next year as the three candidates and their cabinet, the members of which are yet to be named, attempt to make the changes they wish to make on campus.
“I’m going to burn the midnight oil trying to make this place better,” Neil said.