GPSA has a new council chair, Megan O’Laughlin.

It was a tight race between candidates Shannon Crowley, Victor Lopez and O’Laughlin. Council members voted three times before yielding results at the April 23 meeting. The Council decided to cast a re-vote after the first ballot count had a tie between Lopez and O’Laughlin, but some members left the meeting before the second vote.

The votes should reflect the active members in the organizations, representative Rachael Sydlowski-Sewards said, and those who left are not actively participating.

“I think it is unfair that so many of us left the meeting,” she said. “We are all adults in this room — we don’t take on any responsibility without being able to fulfill it. Walking out after voting is showing you don’t value this time commitment.”
Representatives Jessica Carlisle and Japji Hundal said they would prefer current council chair Megan McRobert make a tie-breaking vote. McRobert said she would be comfortable doing so, if the council approved.

“I think it is a bit presumptuous of us to assume that because we are able to be here every Saturday that our votes count more,” Carlisle said. “I think it makes perfect sense that the tiebreaker would be in Megan’s hands.”

The re-vote yielded another tie, O’Laughlin and Lopez each receiving 14 votes and Crowley with 10. The council then held a written vote between the front-runners, and O’Laughlin won the vote 19-17.

Representative Michael Verrilli said he thought the re-voting process was fair, because those regularly involved in GPSA had the opportunity to determine its future leader.

“I think I did see a few people come in, cast a vote and then take off that I had never seen before,” he said. “It is the voice of the people who are taking the time to be here consistently — they are the ones who are sticking around today.”

O’Laughlin is an Anderson School of Management representative seeking her master’s degree in accounting. In her candidate statement, O’Laughlin said she would focus on assisting the legislative process by creating a unified, efficient and accessible forum.

“In life, I have given my time and talents to serve organizations which foster community growth,” she said. “I’m committed to building a stronger and effective council by engaging underserved departments and promoting greater collaboration with external organizations.”