ASB Attorney General resigns to direct election reform task force

Posted on Aug 20 2018 - 10:03am by Taylor Vance

Associated Student Body Attorney General Katherine Sistrunk has resigned from her position to instead help lead the newly established Elections Reform Task Force. Sistrunk was sworn into office in April after winning 68 percent of the vote in the ASB general election. Afterwards, Sistrunk said she partially attributed her win to her membership in a Greek organization.

Katherine Sistrunk and Austin Fiala, running for attorney general, speak on their platforms during the 2018 ASB Candidate Debate at the Overby Center. File photo by Hannah Hurdle

The Daily Mississippian first reported on ASB candidates not being required to disclose campaign donors in April and reported that many of the candidates running received funding from Greek organizations to which they belonged.

“During this [election] process, I’ve found that Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council organizations on campus can provide certain advantages to their members running in student elections that non-Greek-affiliated candidates are not afforded,” Sistrunk said in a statement. “As a member of our Greek community, I have benefited from these advantages.”

Sistrunk’s statement went on to say that she plans to use her new role to meet with the Panhellenic Council, the Interfraternity Council and other student organizations to explain campaign rules and host forums about election reform.

“This decision was made on my own accord because I am passionate about the students at our University,” Sistrunk said. “That being said, it is not the intention [of the task force] to punish others that have benefited similarly, but it is my hope that we can self-reflect and move forward.”

Deputy Attorney General Austin Fiala will be sworn in as attorney general during the ASB’s first formal Senate meeting later in August. Fiala, who initially ran against Sistrunk in the 2018 ASB general election, was appointed deputy attorney general in spring by Sistrunk. Fiala called Sistrunk’s decision “honorable and courageous” and said, “It took a lot of courage to say something like that.”

“I think it should be a message to all members of the student body that you have to stand up for what you believe in,” Fiala said.

Fiala said he agreed with Sistrunk about ASB needing to work to explain election rules to organizations and that “it’s an internal problem that needs to be resolved.”

ASB President Elam Miller, Vice President Walker Abel and Judicial Chair Alex Crouch – who, together, represent the three branches of ASB – released a joint statement in support of Sistrunk’s decision to step down, calling it “courageous.”

“[Sistrunk’s] message is clear: We must enact change in our student election process to ensure that all student voices are heard,” the statement said. “The Associated Student Body strives to uphold the values of the Creed through our mission to serve selflessly and represent justly.”

Sistrunk will lead the task force alongside ASB Director of Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement Leah Davis.