- Luna Anna Archey/Daily
By Michael Sugerman , Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 2, 2014
The Central Student Government has a new vice president. On Tuesday, CSG Assembly members heard about her past involvement with student government, other prominent student organizations and record of community service. They learned that if she were a candy, she would be a Reese’s Cup.
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And so, after debate, LSA senior Emily Lustig was voted into the vice president position with 30 voting in favor, nine abstaining and one opposing her ascension to the position.
CSG’s first meeting came in the wake of LSA junior Meagan Shokar’s resignation last week, and subsequently led to some contention regarding her ultimate successor.
Despite a strong majority vote in Lustig's favor, some CSG representatives felt the selection was conducted in a way that sacrificed internal transparency in the name of Shokar’s privacy — who cited an injury and resulting treatment as the cause for stepping down. The announcement was made through social media on Shokar’s twitter and Facebook page.
While CSG President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior, followed the council’s constitutional bylaws by vetting Lustig himself, also getting approval from the CSG Executive Nominations Committee, representatives not on that committee were frustrated that they had not been notified of her potential appointment earlier.
Speaking from personal experience as vice president last year, Dishell said he trusts Lustig to put in the work necessary to make student government initiatives successful.
“It is an extremely thankless job, and one that is incredibly important to us here and to the University,” he said. “There is no one who is more qualified.”
Some, like CSG Vice Speaker Laurel Ruza, a Public Policy senior, felt Lustig’s nomination process had circumvented the majority of the representatives. Ruza said Lustig wasn’t the most qualified candidate and further asserted that the selection process had “delegitimized the assembly.”
Medical student Michael Yee, the only assemblyman to oppose Lustig’s election in the final vote, said he felt protecting Shokar’s privacy didn’t excuse the closeted process of her replacement’s selection, adding that the representatives themselves only learned about her resignation through social media.
“I don’t think a person’s privacy and transparency in selecting a candidate for vice president are mutually exclusive,” Yee said.
LSA sophomore Swathi Shanmugasundaram echoed this concern earlier in the night during the debate, before which representatives were given the opportunity to ask Lustig a total of eight questions about her potentially elevated role. This was in addition to the nomination committee’s introductory endorsement.
“I just feel like I don’t know you, and that’s the problem for me,” Shanmugasundaram told Lustig. “I don’t think it’s fair that I got maybe two minutes to speak on behalf of what, a thousand students that I’m representing, to get to know you, to say you’re in this position. I’m not saying that you’re not qualified … but I think that we all need more time to get to know you.”
Shanmugasundaram later proposed that the assembly postpone voting on Lustig’s election until the next meeting, which was struck down.
Lustig said she went through three or four rounds of interviews with Dishell in addition to speaking with other assembly members.
“It’s really important for the vice president to work with the president well, and know the inner workings of CSG well,” said LSA Senior Emily Sexton, head of the Nominations Committee, later adding that Lustig’s qualifications in that capacity were unparalleled.
Shokar, who attended the meeting, remained silent throughout the conversation.
After the meeting, Lustig said in an interview that she understood those of her peers who were initially hesitant to confirm her as vice president.
“I understand them being skeptical and critical,” Lustig said. “That’s their job. They were asking the questions that I think many students will or have already asked.”