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The Huntington News

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Four referendums, one slate up for election on 2024 SGA ballot

Matthew Coughlin (left) and Cassidy Donoghue pose for separate headshots. The two decided to run for president and vice president of the Student Government Association for the 2024-25 academic year. Photos courtesy Student Government Association.

Editor’s Note: The Student Government Association announced Wednesday the Election Board extended the voting period until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 21.

The 2024 undergraduate student body direct election is underway, with four referendums on the ballot and an uncontested slate running for president and executive vice president for the 2024-25 academic year. 

Voting opened at midnight March 10 and will close at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Students can cast their vote by logging on to the Student Hub portal. 

This election cycle, students can vote Coughlin-Donoghue, list a write-in candidate or select “no confidence” or “abstain.” 

This is the first uncontested election since the Student Government Association, or SGA, introduced the write-in option, said Owen Kasmin, the executive director of elections for SGA and a third-year history and political science combined major. The last uncontested election was in 2021. 

The Coughlin-Donoghue slate, running for president and executive vice president, or EVP, respectively, is composed of third-year mechanical engineering major and current EVP Matt Coughlin and second-year political science and psychology combined major and current Speaker of the Senate Cassidy Donoghue. 

“We’re incredibly excited about the potential to be next year’s student body president and executive vice president because this school and the success of its students means so so much to us,” Donoghue said in a written statement to The News. “We want to take [Student Government Association] where it currently is and bridge the gaps between the association and the student body so we can better serve students’ needs and wants.”

As of publication, a plurality of students have voted to abstain, with 2,377 abstaining and 2,076 voting for Coughlin-Donoghue, according to the live vote tracker accessible via the SGA website. 

In addition to selecting the next president and EVP, students are prompted to vote for several referendums — ballot measures decided by direct votes — approved by SGA at a town hall in February. This spring, four measures that take aim at a wide range of issues are on the ballot. 

The first referendum, sponsored by Sustainable Transportation @ Northeastern, advocates for the university to enroll in MBTA’s University Pass Program, which provides unlimited fare-free access to the T and bus system for all students, paid for by the addition of a student transit access fee of $50 per semester. 

Another referendum, sponsored by SGA members including Senator Devyani Anand, Vice President for Academic Affairs Misha Ankudovych, Vice President for Student Success Sebastian Chávez Da Silva and Executive Director of Student Involvement James Chang-Davidson, calls for increased transparency regarding budget allocations from SGA’s Finance Board. Specifically, it requests yearly reports of the Student Activity Fee allocations to clubs and organizations. 

The other two referendums on the ballot concern sustainability and climate action on campus. 

One, drawn from a collaboration between the SGA Sustainability Committee and the D’Amore-McKim School of Business Sustainability Committee, urges Northeastern to follow Emerson College’s lead and limit the sale and distribution of plastic water bottles on Northeastern’s Boston campus. 

The other, the result of a campaign by fourth-year environmental and sustainability sciences and economics combined major Tyler Brogan, proposes replacing one of the current core curriculum, or NUpath, requirements with a sustainability class. The referendum is sponsored by SustaiNUbility and the Husky Environmental Action Team

The passage of these referendums will not guarantee the university takes action; however, they represent the student body’s stance on each particular issue. 

For the election to be considered valid, 20% of the undergraduate student body must cast a vote, excluding “abstain” votes. 

As of publication, approximately 16% of the student body had cast a vote, excluding abstentions. 

The Elections Board may extend the voting timeframe by up to five days if they do not reach the threshold during the initial seven-day voting period. If the final vote tally falls short of the threshold, SGA will hold an internal vote to determine the president and EVP for the 2024-2025 academic year, as described in its Direct Elections Manual

To view the live vote counter, FAQs about the election process and the full text of each referendum, students can visit the elections tab of the Northeastern SGA website. Kasmin urged students to contact him at [email protected] with any additional questions, comments or concerns. 

“Voting is important and I want everyone to share their voice,” Kasmin said. 

About the Contributor
Ali Caudle
Ali Caudle, Projects Editor
Ali Caudle is a second-year journalism major with minors in law and public policy and women's, gender, and sexuality studies. She's projects editor in her second semester serving on The News' e-board. She spends her free time working with babies and wandering through Boston's various neighborhoods. Follow her on Instagram @attributedtoali or on Twitter @alicaudle for updates.
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