Letter to the Editor: ISA member responds to recent election criticism

ULM Hawkeye

My name is Amit Rajkarnikar and I have been an officer for the International Student Association for three years. I recently ended my term as the President in the recent elections held on Sept 27th, 2012. I alongside with Dr. Loeb, the Director of International students, were the moderators for the election and I believe that everything was done in order and no unfair voting techniques were practiced.

See the letter only talks about the student’s personal issue, but it doesn’t really state as to how the entire elections came into place. Every Fall the ISA hosts their Welcome Party to invite all international freshmen to mingle with the seniors and fellow peers. During this party we also host the elections for the ISA officers. The actual election process begins two weeks prior to the party. Like every year, Dr. Loeb sent out an email two weeks in advance to inform all international students that the officer positions would be open and if they are interested they should email her with the positions they are interested in. The only officer position not available every year is the President as the past vice president automatically resides that post.

By the end of two weeks we only received a few responses. We did not receive any email from the student, Kale. However, to keep things fair and not announce officers by default, we encouraged students to run for a position even at the very last moment at the sign in table. We then gave each candidate and opportunity to come in front, introduce themselves, and tell us why they should be elected as an officer. We then sent them out of the room and the voting was done by a show of hands. After the count, we brought them back in and announced the winners.

To be even fairer, we further encouraged the students to run for any other position if they did not get elected for the previous ones. We were basically looking for individuals that were motivated and driven.

Furthermore, the facts stated in the letter are untrue. He mentions that most of the attendees were from Nepal. The sign-in sheet shows the most represented group that particular day was from Taiwan while the Nepalese had fewer than in the past.

Also the elected officers represent all different countries. We have Salina Neupane and Pasang Sherpa as the President and Vice president respectively from Nepal. Then we have Adebanjo Adedoja from Nigeria as the Secretary, Diana Ndunda from Kenya and Maria Antunes from Brazil as the Public Relations officers, and Nabin Timilsina from Nepal as the Resource Director. Most of these candidates were very social during the party and actually ran for multiple positions of their choice until they were elected. The other two positions for Webmaster and Athletic Coordinator were given by default to Krishna Sapkota and Jae Shin respectively.

I am aware of the government system here in the United States, but the solution proposed as to limiting the number of votes for each country is absurd. Depriving someone from the right to vote for the candidate they think is valid is violating his/her basic constitutional rights. 

ISA always strives to help international student in every way they can. Not getting picked as an officer should not stop someone from helping. We always need active members that will be there to help the officers. I actually feel very sad that someone would feel left out or under- represented. There are more than 150 RSOs at ULM and we encourage all students equally to be involved not just in ISA, but all around campus. ISA is in no way or form bias due to any color, race, religion, or country.

Sincerely,

Amit “Ray” Rajkarnikar