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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

VSG Senate Election results finalized, Judicial Court rules emergency Senate meeting illegitimate

VSG 2020-21 Senators announced following technical issues with ballots; the injunction preventing the release of results has been lifted.
Vanderbilt administrators are located in Kirkland Hall. (Hustler Multimedia/Alex Venero)

Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) 2020-21 Senate Election results have been finalized and will be released to the general student body on Sept. 20, according to an email from VSG Elections Commission Chair Jay Patel.


According to Patel’s email, the 2020-21 class-year senators will be: first-years Kenny Hill, Macy Su, Jenny Liu, Angela Yan and Katey Parham; sophomores Virali Patel, Shery Girgis, Livvy Whitmore, Rahan Arasteh and Joseph Humphries; juniors Tyger Quarles, Emily Hugan, Zev Sernik, Mustafa Najeed and Joshua Kayiwa and seniors Olivia Sinrich, Aaron Hunt, Ellie Ward, Syed Rahman and Chris Marcus. 

The 2020-21 academic senators will be: Bryce Collings and Matt Geleta, from Arts and Science (A&S); Monica Baldwin, from Peabody; Ian Jenson, from Blair; Carlissa Arrow, from Engineering and Yihan Li and Kayla Prowell, who are remote students. 

This year’s election marked a departure from the housing-based senator allocation model, where each dorm received at least one senator, to a year-based model.

Patel’s email also included election data files and the subsequent breakdowns of Anchor Link results for each race. Patel said that the ballot data would be released with the election results for transparency and accountability purposes.

The results were initially planned to be released Sept. 16, the day voting was scheduled to close. However, due to technical issues with Anchor Link’s ballot platform Sept. 15, VSG sent an email extending the voting deadline by 24 hours. The election results were further delayed because  former and current senators requested an injunction and the Elections Commission had to manually count the votes, per Patel. 

“At the end of the day, one vote makes a big difference,” Patel said. “So, it’s important to make sure that if we’re doing a manual recount, we do it multiple times, just to ensure the results that we get are final, and that it is correct.”

The injunction was implemented following days of procedural back-and-forths between the legislative, executive and judicial branches.  

The illegitimate emergency session

On Sept. 15, members of the VSG 2019-20 Senate convened for an emergency session chaired by former Deputy Speaker of the Senate Rob Lusk. This session has since been ruled illegitimate. 

In the session, the Senate passed a resolution 11-2 calling for all candidates to be made senators.

2019-20 Off-Campus Senator Ellie Ward voted with the resolution.

“Whoever decided to generalize elections to first, second, third and fourth year clearly doesn’t understand the legislative niches senators naturally evolve to fill,” Ward said in a message to The Hustler.

Will Fritzler, 2019-20 College of Arts and Science Senator who voted against the resolution, said a second election would have resolved the senators’ concerns about invalid results.

“I didn’t agree with the plan to accept all candidates as senators, because I believe it would decrease the effectiveness of the Senate,” Fritzler said in a message to The Hustler.

Fritzler is The Hustler’s sports copy editor.

Patel stated in a Sept. 17 email that he didn’t believe the Senate session was legitimate. 

In response, Lusk, along with former Hank Ingram House Senator Bryce Collings and E. Bronson Ingram College Senator Chris Marcus, submitted a petition requesting legitimacy and an injunction to hold the results of the election pending litigation to the Judicial Court.

The Judicial Court granted the injunction, which has since been lifted, and ruled against the petitioners, deciding the emergency meeting was illegitimate because the senators’ terms had ended.

In the decision, Chief Justice Daniel Baisier, along with Justices Grace Choi, Lia Hayduk and Alex Mills, wrote that without a clear constitutional or statutory answer, the most reasonable date for the end of the Senate term is the last day of the undergraduate academic year, usually April 30. 

“The petitioners’ arguments for why they should have still been considered Senators were unconvincing,” Baisier said in an email to The Hustler. 

The court’s decision also noted that over the summer, student representation is limited to the spring semester’s elected officials and appointees of the previous academic year. However, the decision states the Senate could clarify the constitutional ambiguity by passing a statute, which would supersede this ruling.    

Ward said the Judicial Court’s response was unnecessarily curt, sassy and failed to address the real problem at hand.

“According to the facts of the constitution, it was our prerogative to interpret when turnover occurred, and I think it’s irrational to suggest we have already ‘turned over’ when no one has hosted elections to replace us,” Ward said. “The most important statute which came up in our discussion was the point that there can be no vacancies in the Senate—how can Exec then justify that from April 30th to late September, there are 27 vacancies?”

Fritzler said he believed the Judicial Court interpreted the statutes and VSG common practice in good faith.

Ward said the Senate was “meticulous” in their work during the emergency session.

“In the emergency session, we worked diligently to [cite] each and every one of our actions in a constitutional statute,” Ward said. “We were meticulous—and absolutely no one knows the constitution better than Rob Lusk.”

Student Body President Veer Shah said he appreciated the Judicial Court’s decision.

“Whatever the Judicial Court says is usually agreed upon,” Shah said. 

Lusk spoke about the importance of the Senate to student government.

“This is a democracy. They have a direct voice to the student body,” Lusk said. “I do not expect the voice of the student body to go quietly into the night.” 

Sources indicate that several senators are currently working on drafts of new legislation that will directly address issues that have arisen during this election.

“Too many times over the past [three] years have we failed to be an adequate check on executive power,” Ward said. “This emergency session was a first step in the right direction—it’s time we stand up for ourselves and the VSG constitution against unlawful abuses of power and shady political maneuverings.”

Logan Cromeens contributed reporting to this piece.

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About the Contributors
Immanual John Milton, Former Editor in Chief
Immanual John Milton ('22) is from Minneapolis, MN. He studies computer science, economics and business. Before being Editor in Chief, Immanual was a deputy news editor. He can be reached at [email protected].    
Avery Muir, Former Managing Editor
Avery Muir ('21) is from Bethesda, MD. She studied political science and economics in the College of Arts and Science. Avery has been on staff since her first year at Vanderbilt, previously serving as a staff writer, Life Editor and then Copy Editor. In her free time, Avery likes drinking way too much coffee and exploring the Nashville food scene. You can reach her at [email protected].    
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Tony Stark
2 years ago

I am an engineering student who voted against Arrow. If other engineering students had cared enough about VSG to do their research, they would have known she was a radical. (She wanted to make AADS a graduation requirement, and we all already know what Critical Theory says about white people.) We should NOT cancel her, and therefore in my opinion a revote should depend solely on the Constitution/circumstances of the election and not her views (as outrageous and disturbing as they may be.) But let this be a lesson Vanderbilt… don’t vote for someone just because they use your favorite buzzwords like “equity” and “inclusion.” If you don’t want racially prejudiced representatives, get informed!

3 years ago

On Instagram, she stated “y’all white folk are ALL useless…Yes, I mean you too. I said what I said.” On Twitter, she wrote “Vanderbilt opening up another ‘autism research center’ at the ‘school of medicine’ does not sit right with me.” For a person who advocated for equality among all students and who supported the disabled community, I am insulted to see what she posted after the election has ended. A revote must occur.

You wish
3 years ago

You wish these were white tears. You don’t know what race I am either. She assumes that all white people at Vandy are wealthy and can afford to donate and that there are no wealthy enough POC that can donate. Hence, she associates white with wealth and color with poverty, a pretty racist assumption. And making character based assumptions on someone’s skin color is, by definition, racism. She shouldn’t get in trouble and has every right to voice her opinion. But she’s an elected leader at our school and she demonized and insulted 57% of her constituents because of skin color. Racial prejudice (if it isn’t racism like you claim) still has no place in VSG.

3 years ago

This is the person we have representing our student body. ALL white people are useless? It is a racist ideology to say that ALL people of any kind (White, African American, Asian, etc.) are useless. This is who we have representing us and it is a clear violation of Vanderbilt University Policy and calls for her removal. Vanderbilt University’s aim is to create a more inclusive and accepting environment. Article I Section II of the VSG Constitution states that the purpose and objective of VSG is “to empower the undergraduate student body…to contribute to the sense of community and connection across campus…to promote the total well-being of each undergraduate student.” How can an individual who uses such discriminatory language promote the well being of all Vanderbilt students. Prompt action must be taken.

[Russian Bot 🤖]
3 years ago

What the hell is even going on. Impeach them all.

i'm loving these white tears!
3 years ago

how dense have you been throughout this past year to STILL not understand reverse racism does not exist? I seen the post you are talking about and everything she stated in it is completely true. Rich white people at Vanderbilt love to claim themselves as allies of the movement, joining their orgs like AGL and Divest, but not taking any actual action to support their own community, their own peers. I trust she will be a great senator because she focuses on the issues that are harming the most vulnerable communities on Vanderbilt’s campus.

Aaron Gay
3 years ago

There needs to be a revote for the position of Carlissa Arrow, who said on her Instagram story, “WHITE PEOPLE” need “to hold themselves accountable to the damage [they] ALL have done and continue to do”, and that “y’all white folks are ALL useless”. This was posted Saturday, the day after the election. The candidate clearly did not want to show her actual thoughts on her constituents when the tolerant minded students of Vanderbilt (engineering) voted. This is at best racial prejudice, and at worst, blatant racism, making character and worth based assumptions on an entire race of people because of their skin color and familial background. I implore the Senate to demand a revote for this Senator’s position, as blatant racial prejudice has no place on our campus (much less on our Student Government)!