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Sunday, December 5, 2021

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As recall election nears, a look back at how the SGA got here


Juana Garcia/The Cougar

For the first time in the University’s history, SGA President Arsalan Darbin is facing a recall election in late October. 

While Darbin’s recall may come as a shock to some of the student body, others are not surprised. From the start of his campaign, to the most recent Senate meeting voting on his recall, Darbin’s SGA career has continuously been unprecedented.

2021 Election 

During the 2021 Student Government Elections, two student-run parties, the Student Action Party and #RiseUp, ran against one another for seats in the current administration. Darbin ran as a part of the Student Action Party.

In March, both parties had actions of their past brought to light during their campaigning period. Consequently, the Student Action Party dropped the candidate that had a complaint filed against them, while #RiseUp did not. 

About three days after these actions became known, the #RiseUp party as a whole was disqualified on the basis of illegal campaigning methods – which is in violation of SGA’s election code. Another complaint cited against #RiseUp was the use of threatening language towards the Student Action Party on social media.

This meant that by default, Arsalan Darbin became President of SGA’s 58th administration, along with every other candidate in the Student Action Party who ran for a seat, avoiding any formal election by the student body. 

Allegations

Roughly three months into the fall semester, some senators of the current SGA administration began expressing concerns with Darbin’s leadership. In response, business senator, Abraham Sanchez, authored the “Resolution to Recall” over the first weekend in October, along with nine other senators.

The resolution based the recall on allegations like unprofessional conduct, failure to perform his duties and responsibilities and creating a hostile work environment since the start of his administration.

In response, Darbin told The Cougar he was “disheartened” by the senators’ decision. 

“Regardless of its motivations, this recall does exactly what it accuses me of doing: damaging the reputation of the SGA and threatening the credibility of this institution,” Darbin said. “I’m hopeful that this conflict will be a learning moment for the organization and the student body to emerge stronger.”

Recall 

On Oct. 6, the SGA met for their biweekly Senate meeting. While their agenda included legislation on student activities funding and a formal opposition to Texas’ abortion bill, the primary focus for the meeting was the recall. 

Both Darbin and Sanchez had the opportunity to make their case. 

Sanchez began his argument by handing out a list of grievances against Darbin to all those in attendance at the meeting. 

The senator detailed the basis behind each grievance, and added in his speech his attempts to bring the administration’s problems to employees of the University. One grievance Sanchez spoke in regards to was claiming the President lost $7,000 from the last administration.

“He failed to meet the deadline to spend that money,” Sanchez said. “This is his job, and he missed that deadline.”

Darbin spoke to his background at the school, drawing on his personal, professional and University related experiences and how they led him to eventually become the SGA president. 

“I’ve done everything I could to advocate for students and the student body, because of my personal experiences,” Darbin said in his speech. “I would say accusations of an unhealthy and toxic environment are absolutely false.” 

After hearing from both Sanchez and Darbin, as well as senators and students who had the opportunity to speak up in favor or against the recall, the Senate voted via an anonymous ballot in favor of a recall election.

Moving forward

As a result of the vote, the SGA Justice Department outlined a recall election code the same night that the recall election was announced. 

This code calls for 10 to 15 days after the vote for an election to occur, hence the election date being set in late October. The code also disallows campaigning in favor or against the recall election.

As for the student body, who are the voters in the recall election, they can make a decision on Darbin’s fate in the student government on Oct. 26 through Oct. 27. 

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