Michael Cepeda and Thomas DeMaio: Official Student Body President and Vice President


Photo Courtesy of Cepeda and DeMaio.

Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Charles Brown emailed the student government advisers officially announcing Michael Cepeda and Thomas DeMaio as the student body president and vice president for 2014-2015.

The two won the unofficial vote on Feb. 28, but were not announced as the official winners until Friday, April 25.

The delay this year came after multiple deadlines were changed in private meetings with student government members and advisers.

Last year, student government’s official announcement was delayed until April 5 due to complaints — paperwork filed by candidates accusing their opponents of violating the rules.

This year, more complaints were filed than in previous years with a total of 28 complaints filed between both tickets. Two meetings about the complaints that were held privately may have violated Sunshine Law according to Barbara Petersen, president of the state’s First Amendment Foundation.

Brown was able to make the final decision after complaints made by opposing candidates Patrick Callahan and Katie Morris were appealed multiple times through the student government appeals process (see sidebar).

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Student Government Elections Appeals Process:

  1. Posting of Unofficial Results and Initial Contestations

    1. After the posting of the Unofficial Results of the election, Candidates are given a period of time to prepare and file contestations against other candidates to be heard by the Elections Board. Normally, this period is 24 hours and ends the Friday after the posting of the results. For the Spring 2014 Elections, the period was extended through spring break and into the following Tuesday, due to the delays with the voting system.

  2. Elections Board Initial Hearings

    1. After the filing of contestations, the Elections Board holds initial hearings regarding contestations, examining each one for relevance, legal basis (in the Student Statutes) and evidence. Contestations that don’t meet those criteria are dismissed outright, the remaining ones are scheduled to receive full hearings by the Board at a later date.

  3. Elections Board Rulings

    1. After vetting the contestations, the Elections Board holds hearings for the remaining ones, hearing testimonies from both sides of each contestation and weighing the provided evidence. The Board then rules on each contestation, either dismissing it, or reprimanding the offending candidate with a violation. Violations are either minor, which did not have a discernible impact on the elections results, or major, which are grounds for disqualification from the election. Three minor violations are considered equivalent to a major violation.

  4. Student Court Appeals

    1. After the Elections Board hears and rules on filed contestations, candidates may appeal the Board’s decisions to the Student Court, which will then hold a hearing for each appeal. The Student Court can either uphold the Elections Board decision or overturn it, thus removing violations from affected elections candidates. The Student Court also hears cases where the Elections Board itself is the defendant, if any are filed.

  5. Appeals to the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs

    1. Once Student Court hearings are concluded, candidates may still make a final appeal to the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Charles Brown. After hearing the appeal, the senior VP makes a final decision, which cannot be overturned.