CAS student council ousts president candidate from election

One of two presidential candidates for the CAS Student Council was removed from the election at a meeting on Tuesday after being charged with two campaign violations.


Qianshan Weng

Prash Allam (left), vice president of the CAS Student Council, and Ron Hall (right), senator of the CAS Student Council, taking questions from members of the Student General Assembly. (Qianshan Weng for WSN)

Ania Keenan, Features Editor

Adiba Chowdhury hoped to become the next president of NYU’s College of Arts & Science Student Council. She filed to run, stood for election, and, according to a member of the school’s Election Committee, was winning “by a landslide.” Then, quite abruptly, the council voted to disqualify her candidacy.

Chowdhury was accused of committing two minor violations of the CAS council’s election code — which, according to its rules, results in a disqualification. She successfully contested one of the charges to the council’s Election Committee at a meeting on April 8, allowing her to continue on the ballot. But Veronica Spinelli, the current CAS student council president, enacted an “executive order” to ignore the decision of the Election Committee due to complaints that the committee was biased. After a failed challenge to overrule the order, Chowdhury was forced to drop her campaign.

“The decision to declare an executive order is not one that I wanted to have to do, but was necessary in order to provide an impartial decision on the grievance and to keep up CASSC’s commitment to its constitution and election code,” Spinelli, who was not at the meeting, said in a statement. “Doing otherwise could jeopardize the legitimacy and integrity of the council.”

As a result, Sam McCormack, the other candidate running, effectively won the election, and will succeed Spinelli as the student president of the College of Arts & Science for the 2023-24 academic year. 

“I felt that the election commission had made the decisions that they made appropriately,” Chowdhury said. “What I did challenge was the validity of our president making an executive order to override that decision. It’s super unprecedented.”

The CAS student council is different from the universitywide Student Government Assembly, but elected presidents from each school, including CAS, represent their school on the SGA’s President’s Council.

The rules Chowdhury was accused of violating are part of the CAS student council’s extensive Election Code, which contains an extensive list of restrictions limiting where, when and how candidates may campaign. For instance, in-person campaigning of any kind is prohibited — candidates may only promote their campaign online. They must also submit all campaign material to the Election Committee for approval, or face penalties. Chowdhury’s violations included posting about her campaign on Instagram before she was allowed to and violating the ban on in-person campaigning.

SGA chair Ron Hall said that although Chowdhury knew about the campaigning timeline rule before she committed the first violation, she and McCormack were only informed of the rules prohibiting campaigning at SGA events and in person after the fact.

In an interview with WSN, Spinelli defended her decision, saying that concerns of bias were raised by a member of the council following a debate between the two candidates held last week. Spinelli said that she decided to overturn the ruling dismissing Chowdhury’s second violation after observing the operations of the Election Committee on April 8.

“Whenever anyone questions the elections of a student council, that puts into risk a lot of things, like funding and our integrity as a whole,” Spinelli said. “We need to address this, just to nip it in the bud.” 

Contact Ania Keenan at [email protected].