Image courtesy of Plymouth State Student Senate

PSSS plays blame game over failed election

Kay Bailey




When the ballot for Student Senate’s 24-25 academic year was released on April 11, Hannah Lowell noticed that though she had nominated herself for her incumbent role as Off-Campus representative, the position was missing from the ballot entirely. She reached out to advisors Melina Baker and Jessica Dutille for clarity but was passed off to PSSS’s E-Board, who gave conflicting reasons for the position’s absence.  

Student Body President Devonte Gilmore initially told Lowell that the position was missing because they had no documentation that anyone had decided to run. Documents obtained by the Clock confirm Lowell was nominated for off-campus representative.

Secretary Liam Leavitt, however, revealed that PSSS’s E-Board decided to appoint the representative in the Fall because Lowell’s fellow off-campus representative, Will Hicking, held the position despite living in a dorm. 

Lowell understood the E-Board’s desire for the role to be held by someone actually living off campus but was confused by E-Board’s solution. “If we had interviews with the candidates and people who wanted to run for these positions, you could have fixed that problem really easily,” she said. These interviews are required for all candidates, according to Article 2, Section 4 of PSSS’s bylaws, however, this process did not occur at all. 

“It was sort of a perfect time storm that was not working in anyone’s favor” Dutille stated in regards to the lack of interviews. Dutille sent an email outlining organization expectations to potential nominees in place of in-person conversations. Dutille emphasized that PSSS’s by-laws were followed “to a T” for the nomination, campaigning, and voting phases, just not the interview process. Dutille was incorrect in this statement.

Section 2 of PSSS’s bylaws outline that elections are to take place “over the span of twenty-two (22) days in three (3) phases: 1.) Nomination Phase, 2.) Campaigning Phase, 3.) Voting Phase.” The nomination phase is to be open for 7 days, the interview process to be conducted over the course of 3 days, a campaigning period allowing advisor-approved posters and messages to be circulated throughout campus for 7 days, and the ballot to be open for 5 days.” PSSS fell short in each of these requirements.

PSSS only gave a three-day width of time for potential candidates to nominate, interviews were not conducted at all, and the only notion of campaigning as a concept was Gilmore’s short-lived prohibition on criticism. The final ballot was open for 6 days instead of 5, but that was only because the organization released the ballot a day later than announced due to “internal issues” per a release on their Instagram story.

This particular issue would later be revealed to be a prolonged absence of Speaker Will Loughlin, who had made the ballot on Qualtrics. Loughlin’s absence from the election process was relatively anticipated, as the Speaker had prior plans out of the country with another organization. Though his responsibilities would logically fall to Vice Speaker Christyan Cimmino, this does not appear to have been the case as Loughlin claimed that he had passed the election off to Gilmore and Leavitt.

At this point, communication seems to have lapsed entirely. Instead of the original Qualtrics survey, Loughlin supplied screenshots of the submissions, with no off-campus rep included. In correspondence with The Clock following his conversation with Lowell, Gilmore claimed that an off-campus representative would officially be elected, or maybe appointed, in the Fall despite Lowell’s nomination for it.

If PSSS’s E-Board wanted to change how the off-campus representative was selected, they could have referred to Article 10, section 2, which states that changes to their rules of order need to be voted on by the entirety of the student senate with a 50% + 1 majority. Delaying the election of an off-campus representative is a policy change in of itself, and would have needed to be addressed by the PSSS at large. PSSS’s E-Board would need to loop in the rest of the student senate, something Lowell states they have not done throughout the entire election process.

Lowell walked away from the election disappointed. “I understand that it’s the end of the year, and there’s a lot of stuff going on, but, when you make a commitment to something, and the positions of power that you’re in, you need to see it through to the end. Even when you have a lot of other stuff going on in your life.”