On the steps of the Lyceum on Tuesday night, March 28, the Associated Student Body announced the new executive members for the 2023-2024 year: Sara Austin Welch is president, Teal Salloum is treasurer, Ethan Robertson is secretary, Helen Philips is attorney general and Harrison Stewart is judicial chair.
On Wednesday morning, ASB announced that vice presidential candidate Kate Wall had been disqualified from the race. Neither of the remaining candidates, Hayden Pierce and Mason Greenwald, earned 50% of the vote, so they will compete in a run-off race Thursday, March 30.
ASB released an official statement saying Wall had violated Title V, Section 121 of the ASB code which reads, “Any attempt by a candidate, campaign representative, or organization to coerce, bribe, incentivize, intimidate, or force a person to vote or campaign in any form, shall result in the candidate’s immediate disqualification.”
Wall was disqualified in a 5-0 vote of the judicial council, according to the statement.
In response to request for comment by The Daily Mississippian, Wall said she did not expect to be disqualified. Wall said that she sent a message to her Pi Beta Phi sorority sisters Tuesday through the Band app that read “Hey, make sure (to get) a screenshot of you voting for a sisterhood point… we did this last year!!!”
Minutes from the Election Review Board meeting provided by Attorney General Maddy Ryan confirm this message and said that screenshots of the message and the chat name and member count were turned in as evidence.
Wall said she began to question the message immediately and consulted a fellow candidate before deleting the message less than two minutes after she sent it. According to Wall, a fellow sorority sister took a screenshot and sent it to the Election Review Board. Wall then received an email summons.
Wall said upon arrival at the meeting, she was told she had been charged with violation of Title V section 121 C. She claimed she prepared an appeals case in the following two hours.
“I was treated like a criminal by the very people with whom I have duly and happily served for the last two years,” Wall said.
The minutes state that during her defense, Wall argued that only eight people viewed her message. However, given the immeasurable number of people who may have seen it on their lock screens or told through word of mouth, the reach of the message corroborates the violation, according to the ERB.
Wall said she “emphatically denies any attempt to bribe and coerce (her) sorority sisters”.
She called for a revision to Title V so future candidates can have more clear rules.
Welch, junior public policy leadership major and the newly elected president, received 71.3% of the votes.
“I have so much respect for the former executive that I’ve looked up to for many years. I’m so excited to sit down with them and see what their years have looked like as well as our advisor and kind of get a game plan for what our team is going to look like,” Welch said.
With this new position, Welch talked about the many things she wishes to achieve including working on food transparency and parking issues around the campus.
In a close race for the position of treasurer, accounting major Salloum, who won with 54.45% of the votes, shared the enthusiasm to work with peers and staff.
“I’m just excited to be able to work with everybody and figure out what we’re gonna be able to accomplish next year,” Salloum said.
Newly elected secretary and sophomore political science major Robertson, who secured his spot with 97.57% of the votes in an uncontested race, also shared an eagerness to get started.
Robertson plans to branch out in social media and connect with those who might be interested in helping him reach his goals.
“I definitely think the first step within office is going to be making a team that’s going to help define the steps I take. If you follow me on Instagram, I released my platform, and there’s really five big pillars I wanted to hit on, and I think the first step to do is getting and finding those people that are going to help me reach those steps. Especially in the social media world and the website world and finding people who are really fit to handle those things,” Robertson said.
Sophomore public policy leadership major Philips won the attorney general position with 98.1% of the votes in an uncontested race. Philips wants to converse with others in attempts to get a student based opinion of both the campus and ASB.
“(I will) start talking to people, seeing what you know, what the students want to see. I know the attorney general has a lot of internal work, but just seeing how we can improve the structure and the outline of ASB from the inside out,” Philips said.
Newly elected judicial chair and junior public policy leadership major Stewart said he is grateful for his campaign team and praised his opponent, Cross Del Tatto, for his campaign. The race was close, with Stewart winning 56.34% of the vote.
“In the next week or two I look forward to meeting the current chair, Preston Antes, and working through the transition process with him to make it go as smoothly as possible,” Stewart said.
In total, 2,136 students participated in this year’s ASB elections by voting. Winning candidates will officially take office and begin as the new ASB representatives in the 2023-2024 school year.