Student says he was unjustly disqualified from SGA presidency

The Student Government Association held their elections April 12. SGA inaugurated the new, uncontested president April 22.

The Student Government Association held their elections April 12. SGA inaugurated the new, uncontested president April 22.

Hayden Olberding, Editor-in-Chief

A student said he was unjustly disqualified from running for Student Government Association presidency. The association’s officials disagree, saying he didn’t meet the requirements for the office.

Trent Thompson, a junior marketing major and president of the USI College Republicans, said he applied March 15 to run for president. SGA’s election committee voted March 30 that he did not meet requirements.

Anna Ardelean, SGA president and former president of College Democrats, won the presidential position after running uncontested. SGA inaugurated her April 22.

Andrea Lopez, a senior psychology major, was in charge of the elections for the Spring 2021 semester and was SGA’s chief justice. SGA executives delayed the election from April 5 to April 12 to give potential candidates more time to apply.

Lopez told Thompson in an email March 19 that he was not eligible because he hadn’t been an elected SGA member for at least two semesters. 

Thompson appealed the decision, but the election committee voted unanimously March 30 saying he did not qualify as a presidential candidate.

The candidate must have “served as a member of the Student Government Association for at least two semesters at the time of candidacy,” according to SGA bylaws. 

SGA only recently adopted the rule. SGA Attorney General Erika Uebelhor introduced the change Sept. 17. The general assembly approved it Sept. 24, she said. 

The SGA constitution reads: “All students, by virtue of their registration at the University of Southern Indiana, shall be members of the SGA.” 

Thompson said the new SGA rule doesn’t disqualify him.

“Based on that information from the constitution defining membership,” Thompson said. “I was therefore eligible to run for the position.”

Students become “official members” by being elected or by filling a vacancy through a “process that has been followed and respected for over 20 years,” Lopez told Thompson in an email March 22.

Thompson began attending SGA meetings in 2019 but he was never in an elected or appointed position. He continued attending meetings in the Spring 2020 semester and applied to fill a vacant housing representative position, but he said the process was delayed because of the pandemic.

Thompson said he ran for the housing representative position in Fall 2020, but lost the election.

Thompson said he was annoyed when he read that Ardelean said she wished the presidential race was contested.

“They all talked about how they basically wanted more people to run,” Thompson said. “And yet I tried to run, and I was turned away.”