The BC Undergraduate Student Government has appointed Shayan Nomani as election commissioner for this year’s USG elections. The commissioner has “the sole power to preside over the student government elections,” according to the USG election website. Nomani’s appointment to oversee the election comes after back to back USG presidential races came with controversy and contention.
Last year’s presidential race between Ethan Milich, Micheal Davis, and Dapo Ibrahim ended with both Davis and Ibrahim questioning the validity of the results after the voting period was extended due to low turnout. On top of that, Ibrahim argued his opponents had both solicited endorsements from on campus groups, in contrast to USG bylaws. The election commissioner at the time, Daron Peters, found no reason to penalize either candidate.
“I feel that USG can always be and do better,” said Davis, who is graduating from BC this semester, “I don’t know how different things will be, but I have hopes that things will be better this time around.”
However, Davis said the issues with last year’s election came at the administrative level, which made a late decision to extend the election.
“I feel the issue is the administration, leadership like Ron Jackson, in student affairs, and other leadership, are out of touch with students to the point where all the candidates expressed so in a joint response last year,” Davis told the Vanguard. “I don’t believe leadership has changed […] so I don’t have high expectations for them.”
In 2019, the race’s initial winner, Carlos Calzadilla-Palacio, was stripped of his victory after he was disqualified for alleged racial comments directed at his opponent Hamza Khilji. Calzadilla-Palacio was accused of saying that Khilji, a Muslim-American, was not taking the USG stipend because he was wealthy and came from oil money. Calzadilla-Palacio denied the comments and also argued that the election committee, made up of USG members, had issues with conflicts of interest that delegitimized their rulings. Former USG President Alyssa Taylor was the runner up after Calzadilla-Palacio’s disqualification and was given the office.
This year, the goal is to stop any controversies from arising, or at least managing them clearly if they do. Any possible controversies or complaints will now go through Shayan Nomani, a newcomer to both Brooklyn College and Student Government.
“I felt my strength in student government lies behind the scenes,” he told the Vanguard. Before being appointed to the position, Nomani considered a run in student government, but decided this would be a better fit.
Nomani will have the responsibility to rule on complaints, and send appeals to the chief election oversight committee, the College-Wide Election Review Committee (CWERC).
“I’m the first step in that long chain,” he said.
Nomani was appointed by both the USG senate and USG cabinet, where he was grilled with job interview type of questions.
Aharon Grama, one of the current presidential candidates, is currently on the cabinet as Chief of Staff, and was the point person on the advertisement looking for an election commissioner, although Nomani says this would not affect his objectiveness when treating any would-be issues regarding the USG presidential race.
“I’d like to stress that I am independent,” Nomani said, “I don’t have a dog in any fight.”
Grama shared the sentiment. “There’s no conflict of interest, he doesn’t know me personally and I don’t know him personally,” he told the Vanguard, admitting that Nomani was also the only person who applied for the position.
The election period this year will run from Mar. 22 to Mar. 25 and students can vote on BCwebcentral.
“I’m looking forward to an election where everyone follows the rules, and helps deliver a president and senate that serves BC the best,” said Nomani.