Sophomore Peak Sen Chua was elected as Student Association executive vice president Thursday night with 51.9 percent of the vote.
Chua, who is the first international student to be EVP in recent history, ran on a platform of creating a stronger international student community, reducing fees for missed appointments at the Colonial Health Center and expanding the pass/fail elective policy to freshmen and sophomores.
“I am overwhelmed, but I’m also extremely happy right now,” he said. “I think it’s just time for us as a GW community after such a bitter election to come together.”
Chua defeated his opponent EVP Candidate Sydney Nelson by 102 votes.
“It wasn’t the outcome that I wanted,” Nelson said. “But we are still friends through all of this.”
Voter turnout this year totaled 2,747 – roughly two-thirds of the number of votes cast last year and half of the record 5,456 votes in 2015.
A SA president will not be elected until the fall after officials announced earlier this week that they were delaying the race until next semester. It’s unclear how that position will be filled until the new president is elected.
Thursday’s results marks the partial end of this year’s SA election cycle, one of the most contentious in recent years. While other races ran relatively smoothly, SA presidential candidate Cole Ettingoff and Ali Belinkie, his girlfriend, filed six complaints against former SA presidential candidate Lande Watson, accusing members of her campaign of harassment and stalking.
The Joint Elections Committee – the student body that oversees the elections – voted to postpone the elections from earlier this month to this week to investigate the claims. The JEC found Watson had committed several campaign violations and disqualified her Saturday after a 10 hour-long hearing.
Watson initially filed an injunction with GW’s Student Court to postpone the elections while she appealed her disqualification, but withdrew the case after presidential elections were pushed.
Out of the 36 open senate seats in this year’s election, 11 seats were uncontested and 17 had no candidates.
The ballot also had three referendums: one to make minor language updates to the constitution, another to bump the director of campus relations and the director of diversity and inclusion to permanent vice presidential positions on the SA and the final to update the powers of two cabinet positions – the vice president for community affairs and the vice president for student activities. All three referendums passed.
“Thank you to all the students for voting yes on all three of the referendums,” outgoing SA President Erika Feinman said. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to update our constitution to better reflect the needs of the students.”
SA Executive Vice President Thomas Falcigno said he looks forward to passing on his position to Chua.
“I think Peak will be a wonderful EVP and can’t wait to begin transition,” he said. “I knew going in that both candidates were going to be good so I wasn’t really worried about the outcome, but I was really excited.”
Meredith Roaten and Justine Coleman contributed reporting.
This article appeared in the April 10, 2017 issue of the Hatchet.