SA presidential elections postponed until fall 2017

Updated: April 4, 2017 at 8:05 p.m.

The Student Association presidential election has been postponed until the fall semester after the campaign was rocked by accusations of harassment and intimidation against a presidential candidate, according to an email sent to students Tuesday evening.

The Division of Student Affairs and the Joint Elections Committee, the student body responsible for overseeing the election process, jointly made the decision to postpone, according to the email.

“The University has been supporting and monitoring the process throughout this election cycle and came to this determination after careful deliberation and out of an overriding concern for the wellbeing of our students,” the email read. “We believe that this postponement will ensure a fair and civil election process.”

Voting for all other SA positions will take place as scheduled Wednesday and Thursday, according to the email. The results of those elections will be announced Thursday night.

Elections were originally set to take place last week, but were postponed by a week after SA presidential candidate Cole Ettingoff and Ali Belinkie, outgoing president of the Residence Hall Association and Ettingoff’s girlfriend, filed a series of complaints with the JEC alleging weeks of bullying by SA presidential candidate Lande Watson’s supporters.

The JEC disqualified Watson from the election Saturday after investigating the claims, finding her in violation of rules against intimidation, harassment and making false statements.

Watson filed an injunction with GW’s Student Court Monday asking to postpone the election while she appeals the JEC’s decision. Guillermo Martinez, the chief judge of the Student Court, confirmed Tuesday that the injunction was dismissed after Watson requested to withdraw the filing.

Watson said in an email Tuesday that the decision was made to provide enough time to “clear the names of those falsely accused.”

“The election was undermined by smears and failures of justice and GW students deserve a free and fair election in the fall,” she said. “My only hope is that those who are elected Wednesday and Thursday are able to effectively advocate on behalf of the student body. I hope to assist in any way I can to move our campus forward.”

Ettingoff said he understands postponing the election to protect students’ health and safety after hearing reports of and being personally affected by harassment throughout the campaign.

“Neither Adam nor my teams have done anything wrong so it is a shame we are being penalized for the actions of Lande’s team,” he said. “It is a shame the University leadership was not willing to stand up for what was right earlier and let it get this far.”

SA presidential candidate Adam Johnson declined to comment.

This post has been updated to reflect the following clarification:
The Hatchet initially did not provide a reason for why the Student Court dismissed Watson’s injunction. This post now shows that Watson withdrew the injunction, not that the court dismissed it based on its merits.

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