Student Government Association’s president-elect can now breathe easy.
Recent controversy surrounding Glasgow sophomore Jay Todd Richey’s election came to a close in Thursday’s Judicial Council meeting.
Election appeals filed on April 1 and April 8 called for the disqualification of Richey for election code violations.
Despite the appeals, the Judicial Council issued Richey a warning.
Judicial Council member Abby Potter said the decision was unanimous.
“We just took all the figures into consideration, and the student body into consideration and made a level-headed decision,” Potter said.
Current SGA president Nicki Taylor said it is relieving to know the controversy is over.
“It’s good now to see that we can finally move past this and just move forward to next year as we start to train up the new people,” she said.
Taylor said she thinks the election appeals pointed out minor infractions, but the process is needed.
“I do think they were minor infractions, personally,” Taylor said. “However, I am glad that as student government we are a place where any student can have their concerns heard.”
Three election appeals were discussed during the meeting.
The first appeal was filed April 1 by an anonymous source stating Richey violated election code 3.4.6: “There shall be no campaign material distributed into or onto doors or doorways on campus.”
Photographic proof of campaign materials placed on doors within academic buildings on campus, such as Thompson Complex, were in the source’s possession, the source said and called for Richey’s disqualification as president.
Another anonymous source claimed Richey violated code 3.4.13, “All candidates shall remove all campaign material from university property no later than five (5) days after election.” Attached to the request were eight photos showing Richey’s campaign materials hanging up on South Campus. This source also called for Richey’s disqualification.
The anonymous sources did not come forward.
Richey had five minutes to plead his case.
“When I announced my campaign for SGA president about a month ago, I had one priority in mind: to do everything I could to ensure a better experience for each student at Western Kentucky University,” Richey said during his speech.
Richey said the appeals threatened SGA’s credibility as an organization.
“Let me be clear,” he said. “The poster was placed there by a member of my campaign team without my knowledge. The door was the only place in the building that looked like a common area for posters and he placed it there not realizing he was breaking any rules.”
Richey said he takes full responsibility.
However, he argued against his disqualification due to the magnitude of the violations. He said the violations were minor.
Richey said he was convinced the anonymous sources behind the election appeals were not concerned with adherence to the elections, but rather an attempt to revoke his presidency.
Richey provided time-stamped photographs to prove other candidate’s posters were still hanging up past the five-day stipulation. However, he didn’t want to file election appeals.
“I chose not to file any kind of election appeal regarding these posters because I understand that honest mistakes happen,” Richey said.
Richey said he regrets the controversy the incidents caused.
“I know that student government is better than this because I’ve seen it in our dedicated executive members, our passionate senators and the students who are willing to speak out for what they believe in,” he said. “That is the SGA that I love. That is the SGA I look forward to leading.”
The third appeal, submitted by SGA senator Zach Jones, questioned the validity and legality of election code 3.4.6. Jones said in each SGA election he has experienced, the election code was broken by multiple candidates.
Jones believed the election code needs to change.
In response to Jones’ appeal, the Judicial Council suggested the Judicial Review Board, SGA senators and the Election Code Committee review election codes and make changes they deem necessary for next year’s election.
After two weeks of waiting for the ruling, Richey said he is just happy to move forward.
“I feel relieved,” Richey said. “I feel ecstatic because this means we get to move forward as an organization and I get to begin my work on behalf of the student body.”