The tone was somber at the Undergraduate Council’s final meeting of the fall semester.
The Council was gathered to vote on a widely-debated and emotionally-charged issue—the censure of former Vice President Kia J. McLeod ’10 for her role in the turbulent aftermath of the UC’s November presidential election.
For the majority of the election season, the race pitting George J.J. Hayward ’11 and Felix M. Zhang ’11 against Johnny F. Bowman ’11 and Eric N. Hysen ’11 had stayed relatively friendly, a far cry from the acrimonious election the year before between Andrea R. Flores ’10 and Benjamin P. Schwartz ’10.
With the results tallied and certified by the UC Election Commission, Bowman and Hysen were deemed the new leaders of the UC.
But shortly before notifying the winning candidates, the EC abruptly announced that they had voted to de-certify the results and three EC members—including the chair—resigned in protest.
Amid the confusion of the decertification, an e-mail alleging improprieties in the election process and suggesting that Hysen may have had access to voting information was sent over the UC-general e-mail list from the official presidential account firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “A Message on the Election from UC Vice President Kia McLeod.”
Though McLeod claimed in a follow-up e-mail from her own account that she did not draft the original e-mail, it was later discovered that she did personally approve and send the messages—written by former UC members Tamar Holoshitz ’10 and Schwartz—leading the UC to censure her for abusing the powers of her office.
Though its resolve was tested by the tumultuous events of the presidential election, UC members say that the Council has emerged relatively unscathed and more productive than ever, proving the resilience of this Council’s renewed aspirations to serve the student body.
“We’re hoping that people will look at [our work] as our legacy moreso than a week of embarrassing drama,” says Student Initiatives Committee Chair David Gonzalez ’11.
A FRESH START
Last year’s battle between Schwartz and Flores left lasting divisions in the Council, according to Adams House representative Harry T. Rimalower ’10.
Flores says the Council approached this year with a fresh perspective, kicking off the school year with a UC retreat to give all incoming Council members the chance to discuss the upcoming semester.
“We finally accepted [the negative perceptions of the UC] on campus, and it helped us unify,” says Flores. “We became unified against the perception that we were unproductive.”
In addition, members say the new constitutional changes enacted at the beginning of the fall, which increased the number of representatives and committees, played a large role in altering the tone of the Council. For example, some say that having five committees is less polarizing than the previous two-committee structure.
“A lot of votes [last year] were divided between the [old] Student Activities Committee and FiCom,” says Cabot House representative Manuel J. Antunes ’11.