Results are in for last week's UB Council and Graduate Student Association elections, but they remain unofficial as of press time, according to Mike Lewis, a student activities associate in the office of Student Life.
Mia Jorgensen, who received 259 votes, is expected to be the new UB Council student representative. Her opponent, Joshua Boston, was not far behind with 231 votes.
As Council representative, Jorgensen will be required to speak to top UB officials about students' needs and concerns in meetings that are held at least four times per year.
Jorgensen was unavailable for comment as of press time.
Boston was surprised at the low voter turnout – something that he said should be improved in future elections – but he believes that Jorgensen is capable of taking over the position that he held this year.
"I've already extended my services to Mia – any way she needs my assistance in transitioning to the role of the student representative next year – I've made myself available in that regard," Boston said. "I'll also make myself available to the administrators, because I'm just another voice between the administrators and the students."
As election policy requires, both Council candidates are allowed a two-day period to file complaints about the results before they become official. Candidates were informed of the results on Friday, giving them the weekend to file complaints.
The new leaders of the Graduate Student Association were also elected – Grace Mukupa for president (147 votes), Rehab (Rubie) Ghazal for vice president (88 votes), and Jonathan Knights for treasurer (146 votes).
Mukupa and Knights ran uncontested, but Ghazal beat her sole opponent, Joseph Steet, who received 57 votes.
Mukupa is thrilled to be elected as the GSA president, and she is eager to continue advocating for the needs of graduate students, a task that she began as vice president of the GSA this year.
"The news that I will be the next GSA president was humbling. It fueled me to work even harder for graduate students, who are the reason I am in this position today," Mukupa said in an email. "As president, I want to utilize the experience and expertise of leaders within each department so as to sustain the representation and service of GSA."
With a last-minute decision to run and minimal campaigning only directed by her group of friends, Ghazal was surprised to hear of her win. Despite this, she has clear-cut goals for next year.
"I have three goals and one dream," Ghazal said in an email. "As GSA vice president, I will work to raise awareness about employment opportunities and training for graduate students from different disciplines. The second is to open a more transparent channel of communication with the UB administration to address international student issues. Finally, [I will] continue to work with GSEU to get the pay bill approved for TAs, RAs, and GAs and get their appointments and responsibilities clarified."
Steet was friendly with Ghazal throughout the election cycle, and he wishes her the best of luck in her new role. Despite his loss, he plans to continue be a voice for UB's graduate population.
"I will still be in the Senate and serving on all the committees I'm presently a part of, so it's more or less business as usual in that respect," Steet said in an email. "There are a couple of issues that have been brought to my attention during my campaign that I feel need to be addressed, and fortunately, Rubie and I agreed that we would work together on certain issues regardless of who ultimately won the VP slot."
Knights highlighted another important result of the election – the passage of the referendum that allowed the student activity fee to remain mandatory. An overwhelming 151 students voted in favor of the mandatory fee, and 38 voted against it. Additionally, 154 students voted for an $11 increase to the fee, while 35 voted against it.
"Although I was uplifted that the vast majority of the voting population voted for me rather than abstaining, I got goosebumps when I received the news that the referendum (and the increase) had passed by a landslide," Knights said in an email. "I really think the culture of our organization is healthier and more vibrant than ever."
During the summer, among other goals, Knights hopes to foster a stronger working relationship between the GSA and the undergraduate SA.
The GSA election results, tentatively released Friday, will be made official Monday. Candidates are given a period of time during which they may voice their objections in accordance with the GSA Election Code, according to an email from the GSA Election Committee. If the results are not contested, all of the elected candidates will take office on June 1.