GW’s election board kicked a second-time candidate for Student Association president off the ballot Tuesday and is also considering removing a senior who plans to graduate this summer.
Kwasi Agyeman – who claimed to be a master’s student though he has not been accepted into a program and also has yet to finish his undergraduate degree – said Wednesday that he will appeal the Joint Election Committee’s decision to disqualify him. The SA constitution states that a student cannot run if they switch degree programs in the time between their candidacy and a potential presidency.
Agyeman would have graduated in 2012, but learned a few weeks after Commencement that he fell short of requirements and would need to take an additional Writing in the Disciplines course. He said the committee removed him from the ballot because he would have been the first graduate student to run for the seat in recent history, and the group does not know how to handle graduate candidacies.
“It’s typical GW. I am coming back to try and make the school better and the school is trying to make that harder,” Agyeman said.
Agyeman said he found out last May, a few weeks before he was supposed to graduate, that he failed to complete his history degree because he did not take the correct writing course. He petitioned another class to count in place of the requirement and walked in ceremonies last May, but he found out afterward that the course would not count.
This semester, he is completing the unfinished course for his undergraduate degree, as well as taking graduate courses as electives. When announcing his candidacy, he said he was already taking courses toward his master’s in American studies.
He will find out if he was accepted into the master’s program next month.
Joint Election Committee Chief Investigator Jordan Hill said Agyeman “did not meet the qualifications to be on the ballot,” but declined to explain further, citing privacy issues.
“I’m not willing to go into any specifics about a student. It’s not appropriate,” Hill said. “We stand by our decision.”
Agyeman said if his name does land on the ballot, he would to create a 24-hour campus dining spot and overhaul academic advising – projects that are both already in the works in Foggy Bottom and at the University.
His 2011 campaign was centered on a “Buff and Blue block party.”
The committee could also decide next week whether to remove SA presidential candidate Hugo Scheckter from the ballot. Scheckter, a senior, will walk at Commencement, but he is eligible to run because he will continue at GW this summer to finish up a few credits.
Director of the Center for Student Engagement Tim Miller called it a “loophole” in the Joint Election Committee’s charter and the Student Association’s constitution, which allow students to run if they will be enrolled in the same program for the upcoming semester.
“In no case shall a candidate for election in the spring semester be certified for office where such candidate will graduate with a University-granted degree in the same year,” the SA constitution states.
Hill said Scheckter’s campaign is “definitely on the radar.” He said it is the JEC’s job to look into these types of potential violations, but said was not willing to discuss hypothetical situations.
Scheckter – whose spoof campaign blasts what he calls GW’s lack of transparency, defended his candidacy. He said he will remain at GW until he completes his degree. When asked about his graduation plans and what he would do if he won the election, Scheckter declined to comment.
“I am as legitimate as any of the other candidates, even more than some candidates having seen some ludicrous platform ideas,” said Scheckter, an international student from the United Kingdom.
The Office of the Registrar declined to provide a copy of his transcript because The Hatchet did not have Scheckter’s written permission.
He said he has no plans to end his campaign, pledging to move students to a West Virginia campus, replace Whole Foods Market and the Smith Center with textile museums – mocking the partnership between the GW Museum and the Textile Museum – and demand a $1 billion salary.
“I’ve been approved by the JEC and so I will continue my candidacy as planned,” Scheckter said.
Chloé Sorvino contributed to this report
This article was updated Feb. 21, 2013 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Kwasi Agyeman intended to graduate in 2011. He intended to graduate in 2012. We regret this error.