Six months after Erin Williams was announced as president of Ferris student government, election results have still not been released.
“The numbers and statistics for the last presidential election are not public information, as student government has informed the Torch before,” Williams wrote in an email received at 9:41 a.m. on Oct 30.
Williams told the Torch she has never seen the results herself.
A legal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was submitted by the Torch at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30 in an attempt to access the open records information. As of press time, no information had been provided.
FOIA requests are used to access public records. They can be utilized by anyone and commonly used by journalists.
The FOIA was sent to Student Government President Erin Williams, Dean of Student Life Leroy Wright, interim Vice President of Student Affairs Don Flickinger and Vice President and General Council Miles Postema. Wright is the student government advisor and Postema is the Ferris FOIA coordinator.
The Torch reporter covering student government requested the vote breakdown following the online election that took place on OrgSync for a period of three days near the end of March.
Last spring, the Torch reported on April 3 Erin Williams won the election over Travis Hill. Two others received write-in votes, but numbers were not given. Williams will graduate in December, and Andrew Kalinowski will take over the position.
When the Torch resumed publishing in September, multiple people were contacted in attempts to access these records.
Williams directed the Torch to recently resigned Internal Assessment Director of Student Government Jacob VanBoxel. VanBoxel directed the Torch to Student Activities Specialist Teresa Fogel who then directed the Torch back to Willams.
Reporting on election results is a common practice in newsrooms.
During city elections, the results are given hourly upon request to the Pioneer, the Big Rapids Newspaper by the county clerk’s office, according to Pioneer reporter Lauren Fitch.
“[The county clerk’s office will] usually have final results in the night of the election,” Fitch said. “They also try to update it online as they go so we can kind of get an idea of how close they are to having a final count. They’ll usually fax or e-mail us a sheet of the number of people that voted and how many total registered voters and how many said yes or no.”
Big Rapids long-time Mayor Mark Warba relayed the importance of knowing election results to the Torch.
“[Knowing election results] certainly is part of the needing to know, wanting to know, and the idea of transparency in elections that you report what the vote tallies were for respective candidates,” Warba said.
Warba ran unopposed for re-election on Tuesday.
“Even if there was opposition I think people need to know what the outcomes were, what the votes were, and I can’t think of a reason why if I was elected or not I would say ‘don’t print the election results; that shouldn’t be known,’” Warba said. “I think you have to accept that if you’re going to run for an elected office. The public in general should have that information available to them. “
Student government receives $1 per student each semester for operating costs. Student government uses much of their budget for the Big Event.
Each semester, the student government finance division receives a $20 student activity fee from the majority of enrolled students. This money can be allocated to registered student organizations.
According to Ferris staff member Deanna Goldthwait, Student Affairs Operations Analyst, the fall 2013 total is $159,018.