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From the archives: A look at student government elections throughout history

Lily Huynh/The Cougar

With the Student Government Association elections now over, The Cougar decided to take a look back through the archives at some of the highs and lows of the organization’s election history  throughout the decades. 

Candidates File Election Charges – March 5, 1965

College of Education senatorial candidates Marilyn Mott and Judy Hoffman, along with graduate senatorial candidate Allan Soffar, were charged and counter charged for illegal campaigning procedures. 

Hoffman filed charges against Mott on the grounds that she solicited votes inside the 30-feet boundary while the election rules at the time stated that no candidate may campaign for votes within 30 feet of the polling boxes. 

Hoffman was charged with the same allegations by Mott because she claimed one of Hoffman’s supporters was distributing flyers within 10 feet of the polling booth. 

Soffar filed a charge against another candidate, Richard Gaghagen, over an incident where handbills were being distributed prior to election day — another offense at the time. 

In the following days Mott and Hoffman were declared guilty of the charges and were disqualified. Gaghagen ultimately went on to win the presidential race.

Student Association amends election code, hikes funds – Feb. 14, 1979

In 1979, SGA — then called the Student Association — conducted two meetings to pass several controversial bills, including amendments to the SA Election Code, additional funding and a parking proposal. 

The senators could not come to an agreement for the first five-hour meeting and were forced to conduct another meeting at 12:05 a.m., due to the UHSA Senate rules at that time, which stated that no two meetings could be conducted in one day. 

The “controversial bill” demanded striking the requirement that each presidential or vice-presidential candidate have a running mate, according to former staff writers Mark Power and Brian Ford. 

Finally in the second meeting the amendments were approved and a compromise was reached to hike funds. 

President Marguerite Ross Barnett signs pile of SA legislation – Feb. 14, 1991

In 1991, then UHSA President Marguerite Ross Barnett had neglected to respond to 14 SA bills and resolutions for almost three months, which led to many complaints against her.

A bill was then passed stating that SA bills should be sent directly to the President instead of previous procedures which required pre-approval from other parts of the University, according to the article. 

“Barnett said she became aware of the problem when several SA senators brought it to her attention during her office hours,” wrote former Cougar staff writer Debbie Housel. 

Former SA Senator Michael Berry said the lack of response from Barnett had become a running joke in the SA office, according to Housel. 

Recall nullified, SGA upended by Justice Department – Nov. 3, 2021

Two years ago, SGA’s first-ever recall election led to a series of complaints, suspensions and the removal of several SGA officials from office. 

Former SGA President Arsalan Darbin was suspended after  allegations made against him by his own senators and members of the cabinet.

Then-Vice President Maryam Alghafir took over the position and duties of the president in the meantime. 

There were 31 sitting senators before the recall election of which 17 were suspended after the senate meeting where the amendment to recall election code was voted on. 

After a review, the former Attorney General, Nadiia Hutcherson rescinded the suspension of two senators but decided to remove three from office after multiple Election Code violations, according to former Cougar news editor, Aminah Tannir.

Since almost half of the senators were suspended for similar violations, Hutcherson exercised her power as attorney general and stated there would not be any senate meetings for the duration of fall semester.

Even though the results showed that more than half of voters wanted Darbin out, he still remained in his position and resumed all duties after a mandatory training and completion of his suspension

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