Two weeks ago, DePaul University held online elections for various positions within the Student Government Association. By an overwhelming margin, students elected junior Watfae Zayed and sophomore Kevin Holechko for SGA President and Vice President.
The pair campaigned on four major initiatives, including defunding the DePaul’s Fraternal Order of Police tuition discount, creating a textbook scholarship program, increasing communication between administration and students, and ensuring free university counseling services post-pandemic.
This platform ultimately led them to victory over Wesley Janicki and Keith Norward’s rival campaign — beating their opponents by an 18 percent margin.
Reflecting on the outcome of the election, President-elect Zayed says she’s amazed by the results.
“We decided to run, and we ran a campaign, and it worked out really well,” said Zayed. “I’m really grateful to see that students trusted us and voted us in, and it makes me hopeful for this next year.”
As newly elected vice president, Holechko expressed excitement for the upcoming academic year.
“Watfae asked me to join her campaign when she decided to run for office. It took a little convincing, but I’m glad I made the decision to go with her and be there by her side. I’m very excited to see what we will be able to do as president and vice president.”
Zayed, meanwhile, says she attributes their campaign’s success to the close friendship between herself and Holechko. She went on, adding that it was this relationship that would make their administration effective.
“Kevin and I are really close friends so I know we have a lot that we can accomplish together,” said Zayed. “And the rest of our cabinet that got elected, we’re all really close. When you have a team of people that are really close and really comfortable with each other, that means you can do more.”
Last week, in an unexpected turn SGA disclosed a protest relating to an unnamed candidate’s campaign via a statement posted to their Instagram:
“A protest regarding a candidate’s campaign has been filed and is under review of SGA’s Judicial Board. The Judicial Board is still meeting and figuring out proceedings on this matter.”
Because of those protests, the inauguration has been pushed back from its original date. This will give SGA’s judicial board time to review the complaints and verify the results of the election.
Though she understands the need for such a process, Zayed expresses disappointment in this delay.
“All I can really say right now is it’s just a waiting game, I think, for everyone that just got elected,” she said. “Personally, there were a lot of things I wanted to get started on right away … so it is frustrating to have to wait to be inaugurated to do all these things.”
On Thursday, SGA’s Judicial Board held a trial to investigate those complaints; the results of the trial are expected to be posted to the public within 15 business days, according to SGA and Judicial Board member Marcus Robertson.
Concerns about the inauguration date, which is within the window of trial results, have been raised, but the 15 business day timeline “may not be necessary,” according to Robertson, and results may be posted sooner, allowing for a timely transition to a new e-board. Caroline Aceves, SGA’s senator for intercultural awareness, said that because no formal consequences are being called for in the original petition raised by incoming SGA Senator for Disabled Students David Hupp, she “[doesn’t] imagine it should affect the inauguration.”
If the results of the election are verified, the virtual inauguration will be held to induct Zayed, Holechko and the rest of their cabinet into their new offices on Thursday, June 3, at 6 p.m.
Editor’s note: Marcus Robertson, who is a member of SGA and involved in the Judicial Board trial, has previously contributed to 14 East as a writer.
Header image by Yusra Shah