Student election squabble stalls
The man elected to be the next Massey University student president may be forced to resign and stand again in a by-election.
The Massey University Students’ Association held a special general meeting yesterday to vote on whether president elect, Stefan Biberstein, should resign because he only got the job by default.
Motions were put forward to request and accept his resignation, forcing a by-election, but the meeting had to be adjourned because there wasn’t a quorum of 30 students.
Rohit Mohan, who came to New Zealand from Indian seven months ago, won this year’s student president election in September, but was later disqualified because he was on a student visa.
His only opponent, Biberstein, who had lost the election 313 votes to 234, was instead named to take over from sitting president Michael Salmon at the end of the year.
If Biberstein resigns there will be a by-election, which he can stand in.
Yesterday’s meeting started with a quorum of 35 students, but the first part of the meeting took too long before a vote could be held and some students had to leave for an exam.
Despite a break to try and rally more students to attend, they could only muster 26 eligible voters, so the meeting was adjourned. The date of the next meeting is to be confirmed.
Student Samuel Frost put forward the motions which led to the meeting.
He said he wanted a fresh election because Biberstein had won the seat by default. Had Biberstein been the sole candidate, voters would have had an option of casting a vote of noconfidence.
Frost said they didn’t know whether the 60 per cent of voters who voted for Mohan would have cast a vote of no confidence in Biberstein.
Deputy pro vice-chancellor Chris Gallavin, who chaired the meeting, said because there were two candidates, there was no option for voters to express whether they had confidence in Biberstein.
‘‘That didn’t happen because on the face of it there appeared to be two candidates."
Biberstein declined to comment to Stuff after the meeting.
Mohan was ineligible for the presidency because it is essentially a paid fulltime role with an honorarium of just under $35,000
There is a position on the association executive for an international student and all other executive roles can be filled by international students.
Immigration rules state people on student visas can not undertake volunteer work for gain or reward, and paid work cannot be for more than 20 hours per week.
Student politics in Palmerston North is no stranger to discord. In 2014, Daniel Goodman stepped down in disgrace as UCOL student association president after admitting he fabricated an elaborate story about his past.
In 2013 the Massey University Extramural Students’ Society president Jeanette JV Chapman was ousted following a vote of no-confidence amid allegations she had acted unconstitutionally, without transparency, and earned more than $50,000 for the part-time role. The university had also severed funding to the society during her leadership.
President elect Stefan Biberstein, centre, only won because the actual winning candidate was deemed ineligible.