GUSA Election Commissioner Ethan Chess (COL ’14) filed a petition with the GUSA Constitutional Council on Thursday night requesting the invalidation of Sunday’s election for GUSA speaker, which propelled Senator EmilySiegler (SFS ’14) to the position after Vice Speaker Sam Greco (SFS ’15) failed to win a majority in a confirmation vote to assume to role.
The petition, which also requests an injunction against senate procedures until the speaker issue is resolved, claims that Greco automatically assumed the speakership when former Speaker George Spyropoulos (COL ’14) resigned Dec. 8, and that the confirmation vote that Greco lost 13-9 on Sunday was not in line with GUSA procedure. If the confirmation vote is deemed unnecessary by the Constitutional Council, the subsequent election for speaker, which Siegler won with 10 votes to Greco’s three, will be invalidated.
Chess submitted his petition by email to the three members of the Constitutional Council, which has not seen a case since 2010. Chess said he did not consult any other members of GUSA in drafting the petition and does not have political motivations behind its filing, which is not part of his official capacity in the Election Commission.
“My concern is more for the process than the political,” Chess said. “I’m apolitical; I have no horse in any race, anywhere, ever. My horse in the race is process, which was very clearly violated.”
“My aim in filing this petition is not to directly protect Sam Greco, it’s to protect the institution,” Chess said. “It’s not for me about Sam Greco. It’s more about protecting the institution.”
In his petition, Chess stresses the significance of this decision to upcoming GUSA elections.
“The petitioner believes that it is fundamentally important for the procedural and electoral health ofGUSA that the results of an illegitimate election be held from entering into force,” the petition reads. “Without this injunction, the procedural and institutional legitimacy of GUSA enter a precarious state. With important electoral and fiduciary decisions for the Association on the near-term horizon, it is essential that this process be carried through in an orderly and civil manner.”
Though Greco was not involved in drafting this petition, he agreed with Chess that the election’s circumstances were suspect.
“I think that there are definitely constitutional questions that deserve a second look,” Greco said.
Siegler commented briefly on Chess’ decision to file the petition.
“I believe that we all have the agency as individuals to act as such, and Ethan is using his agency as an individual, so if he so feels that that’s the right avenue then he has the right to do that,” she said.
The three-member Constitutional Council plans to meet tomorrow and to issue a press release after their meeting. At least one member of the council must vote to accept Chess’ petition before it is considered, and two members must agree on a final decision if the petition is accepted.
“We have received Ethan Chess’ petition,” GUSA Justice Josh Shinbrot (COL ’16) said. “We have not yet voted on whether we will accept the petition.”
The decision whether to approve the requested writ of mandamus that would invalidate Siegler’selection as speaker and put Greco in the role is separate from the decision whether to issue an injunction to suspend senate operations until a decision on the speakership is made. The council could decide on any combination of the above two decisions.
GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) appeared unaware of the events Thursday night, with neither acquainted with the details of the petition or its filing.
“The senate is, for all intents and purposes, its own body,” Ramadan said. “I will be there if it needs me to be there, but I’m not concerned going forward.”
Hoya Staff Writers Sam Abrams, Kit Clemente and Mallika Sen contributed reporting.