By Gauri Mangala, Assistant News Editor
After the Student Senate Board of Directors decided to deny Haley Gluhanich’s ‘19 appeal, nullifying her victory in the election earlier this month, Senate moved quickly to run a new presidential election, which began voting on Thursday and will continue through Monday at noon. There are three candidates: Anna Burns ‘19, Nick Arbaugh ‘20, and Alex Xie ‘20. Andrew Fitzsimmons ‘19, Chair of the Senate Sustainability Committee who had also declared his candidacy, withdrew his candidacy earlier Friday for personal reasons.
The three candidates spoke to The Gettysburgian to expound upon their campaign platforms.
Burns, who lost to Gluhanich in the first election, has modified her platform in the second iteration of the election.
“I think that my campaign platform has moved from focusing on the issues with the school and senate meetings such as free laundry and no mold to now a campaign empowering female leadership,” she said. “I am the only female candidate now running against 3 male opponents. When Haley and I were running it was really awesome to have two strong female candidates that both had great ideas to bring to senate. Also I think that my campaign now focuses on not looking only at the concerns and interests of the people that attend senate meetings, but as an entire student body which is important for being the voice of the students.”
Burns, who was a voting member in the decision to accept or reject Gluhanich’s appeal, was not in favor of either outcome that decision provided. “They found that there was a violation of the election rules which they took seriously. Being student body president is the highest held power a student can have, but we all make mistakes and I think that Haley’s mistake was something that any candidate could of accidentally done. Ultimately, I think that there should of been a new election with the original candidates and have the students decide.”
Arbaugh, who support Gluhanich’s candidacy, was elected treasurer earlier this month (and who will retain that position if he does not win the presidential election), but decided to put his name in the hat after the news of election violations in the previous election. “I’ve always been a responsibility guy when it comes to Senate, and I saw the role of Treasurer as the position which demanded the most accountability (hence my decision to run for it) at that time. After the fiasco following the first election, it became clear to me that the Presidency now needed that accountability, integrity, and even-handedness. Student government demands a President at this critical juncture who is capable, experienced, and who is willing to confront the administration on behalf of students. The Senate needs someone who takes the concerns of the student body seriously, someone who has been working for their entire tenure in student government in the Budget Management, Opinions, and Policy Committees and who is dedicated to the wellbeing students.”
If elected, the constitution dictates that Arbaugh would be allowed to appoint someone to the position of treasurer. “If elected, I will consider everyone in the pool of candidates who apply to the position. Within that pool, I will look for reform-minded candidates who are accountable, responsible, and fair to both sides of the budgeting process. An ideal candidate would be someone who would be committed to streamlining the budget process, would continue to maintain Senate’s fiscal responsibility, and who would bring fresh ideas to the table that would help Senate grow into the activist body it should be.”
Some students have expressed concerns about Arbaugh’s candidacy, due to his affiliation with the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). As that organization’s vice president, Arbaugh has always abstained from commenting or voting on YAF budgets, both in BMC and in the open Student Senate meetings, however students are worried that his involvement in YAF will affect the way he conducts himself as President.
“In my current Senate role, I have never acted against any event with which I personally disagreed with and have abstained in votes and debates pertaining to events in which I have a vested interest,” he said. “The Senate represents the diverse viewpoints of the Gettysburg student body in a far better way than any one person could ever hope to, and I plan to take that belief into the Presidency with me should I win election.”
As part of his campaign, Arbaugh has placed posters around campus and said that posters have been removed from Apple Hall, Stine Hall, Paul Hall, and the CUB.
“It’s a shame to see such immaturity in as important of an election as this one. Hopefully we can stop with the childish tactics, grow up, and get back to addressing the problems the student body cares about,” commented Arbaugh.
A group of students met on Friday afternoon in the Office of Multicultural Engagement to discuss the necessity of a more diverse Student Senate and how to go about that. Presidential candidate Alex Xie ‘20 was in attendance.
He said, “Whether I am elected to the Executive Board or not, next year in Student Senate I will throw my support behind a bylaws amendment proposed by former Senator Candice Montenegro. The proposed amendment would encourage sitting Senators to attend meetings of cultural organizations with the intention of branching out and building relationships with the broader Gettysburg College community.”
Xie did not originally run for any executive board position in the first election.
“In last year’s election, we saw four strong candidates in the election for President, so I expected there to be a similar number of diverse options this year for the students to choose their favorite candidate from. After the recent elections violations, I read through the Constitution and took the time to really understand the duties and responsibilities of the position before entering the election with the aim of giving the student body a candidate who not only has a diverse Senate experience from a variety of lenses, but also prioritizes reaching out and truly listening to the many students and groups who are disconnected from our Student Senate and feel like their voices are not being genuinely heard by either the campus community or the college Administration,” he said.
Xie, however, does not currently sit as a senator, as he was removed in accordance with the Senate Constitution for failing to attend several meetings. According to Secretary Kate Helmstetter’s ‘18 records, Xie acquired 3 absences in the Fall semester and 3.5 absences in the Spring semester, resulting expulsion from Senate.
“With serious attendance issues during both semesters this year, I question Alex Xie’s ability to effectively represent the student body and their interests to our various campus partners. Being a member of the Student Senate Executive Board requires a significant amount of time and sacrifice, and given his inability to devote this time during the 2017-2018 academic year, I do not find him a suitable candidate for the Senate Executive Board. He has not demonstrated the commitment necessary to be an effective representative of the Student Body,” she said.
Xie stated, “I stand by my firm conviction that I was wrongly removed from Senate and should still be a sitting Senator. The Secretary’s records claim that I was absent at the Senate meeting on January 29th, but I can say with 100% confidence that I was in CUB 260 both before 7:00 PM and after the meeting was adjourned. I have communicated this to both the Secretary and President, but I have not yet received a response. Frankly, if I was not willing or able to commit to not only fulfilling the duties of the Student Senate President, but also putting in the extra effort to connect with the multitude of students who feel disengaged from our Student Senate, I would not have entered the election.”
The outcome of the election will likely be announced at the open Student Senate meeting on Monday, April 30, the last Senate meeting of the academic year.