Looking Back: Issues with the 1995 Student Congress election

Bridget Janis, Staff Reporter

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When election time for the Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) comes around, students have the opportunity to have a say by voting for the best candidates. 

In 1995, the OUSC election ended up taking a surprising turn. Steve Capps, OUSC’s administrative assistant, was suspended from OUSC for one week without pay because of certain academic conflicts. 

Capps was the chairperson of the elections commission. His responsibilities during the election were to handle publicity and the guidelines — two important aspects of the election. Before the election was over, Student Body President Michael Simon ended up having to take over the position.

Capps was suspended because other OUSC members claimed he was not doing his job and had a lack of effort in publicizing the election on campus. Making the election known on campus allows students to know what is going on and who is running for the positions.

He also told The Oakland Post that the election was going to be almost non-existent. He claimed that, because of the lack of opposition, no students would be interested in voting.

“There is only one person running for Congress president,” Capps said. “There are 15 Congress positions open, and only 15 people are running. I think it would be a waste of student money to have a bunch of voting tables open.”

Many of the candidates were not campaigning for their positions. While president and vice president candidates Rayissa Slywka and Michael Manson were campaigning, they believed it was wrong for the others to not be working for their positions. 

Since there was an expected low voter turnout, the university resolving this by only having one table with a ballot box. 

“I can’t force this university to become involved democratically,” Capps said at the time. “There is almost no point in having elections if having petitions filled out means you’re automatically elected to Congress.”

Without Capps being part of the process, there were errors found on the ballot sheet and students had to revote. According to Garrick Landsberg, a then-OUSC member, the elections committee listed a non-candidate and dropped the name of a candidate on the ballot in a last-minute rush. 

The student placed on the ballot who shouldn’t have been was Kathryn Kumiesha. It was a mix up because she did check out a petition for candidacy but never turned it in. The candidate that was supposed to be on the ballot was Will Pailen.

With this mix up, the students on campus expressed frustration as they would have to go through the entire voting process again.

The voting did get sorted out with the next attempt and the OUSC positions were all filled. While there was trouble with lack of candidates and ballot issues, OUSC still wanted to make the students feel like they had a voice during the election.