After nearly a month of debate involving a ballot counting controversy, accusatory e-mails and multiple elections, Lawrence E. Adjah Jr. ’06 was officially elected president of the Black Students Association (BSA) on Monday night.
Monday’s election, which Adjah won by 14 votes, marked the third time Adjah ran against Zachary D. Raynor ’05.
On April 16, Adjah and Raynor tied in voting for BSA president with 63 votes each, after a “questionable” ballot in favor of Raynor was removed.
In an April 18 runoff, Adjah defeated Raynor 104 to 60 and was named BSA president.
But shortly after the runoff, allegations concerning improper ballot counting surfaced.
Christopher J. Lee ’06 sent an e-mail to the Black Men’s Forum (BMF) list alleging that the electoral commission had inappropriately interfered with the ballot count in the initial election.
Lee wrote that the original vote count for the presidential election was not 63-63, but 64-63 in favor of Raynor and he criticized the removal of the “questionable” ballot.
Though members of the election commission acknowledged the removal of the ballot in favor of Raynor, they maintained that it was removed for legitimate reasons.
The electoral commission, after consulting with BSA faculty adviser Kimberly M. DaCosta, an assistant professor of Social Studies and African and African-American Studies, decided to hold Monday’s reelection. DaCosta. with the aid of two graduate students, tabulated the results, and has made the ballots publicly available to BSA members.
Adjah won Monday night’s election 60-46.
“I have felt blessed throughout this process,” Adjah said yesterday. “I still have a lot of respect for the election commission members. We’re all human and we make mistakes.”
Adjah said he hopes to prevent such incidents from recurring under next year’s board.
“I just want to have more transparency between the board and the membership,” said Adjah. “If you’re open with your membership and you make mistakes, they’re a lot more understanding.”
BSA members emphasized the need for next year’s board to prove that BSA’s integrity has not been harmed through the past month’s controversy.
“We can put the speculation to rest now, but the board will need to work hard to regain the trust of people who might have lost faith in BSA,” said Peter G. Asante ’07.
Shanai T. Watson ’07 said she did not believe that the controversy was in vain.
“Part of me is glad it happened...now we know how to deal with situations like this in the future and how to prevent it,” she said.
Despite the problems, Raynor is satisfied with his experience as a presidential candidate.
“I don’t have any regrets,” said Raynor. “It was a very trying process for everyone involved, and I am glad it’s over.”
Adjah said he believes that members of the black community would not allow the past month to affect their commitment to BSA.
“This organization has a very strong foundation...People have been happy with the organization in the past and just want to see resolve,” said Adjah.
—Staff writer Shayak Sarkar can be reached at email@example.com.