The recall election of Undergraduate Council of Students President Ricky Zhong ’23 will begin at noon on Monday and close at noon on Wednesday, according to a Feb. 3 announcement from UCS.
The voting question will be: “Should Ricky Zhong be recalled from the office of UCS President?” Elections Co-Directors Eli Sporn ’24 and Joon Nam ’23 wrote in the announcement. Students will vote “yes” to approve the recall — in which case Zhong will be removed from office — and “no” to disapprove it. All active undergraduate students can participate in the “simple majority” election, and at least 10% participation is required for the result to be valid, Sporn and Nam wrote.
The recall election result will be announced Wednesday night, Sporn said.
If Zhong is recalled, an “internal special election” — meaning only UCS members will vote — will fill the presidential vacancy “due to the immediacy of the (Student Government Association) Spring Election timeline and historic precedent for filling student government officer vacancies,” according to the announcement.
Christopher Vanderpool ’24, author of the recall petition, said that he thinks the recall election is “a little rushed,” referring to the “really quick turnaround” between the Friday, Feb. 3 announcement and the Monday, Feb. 6 election.
“A few more days would have … helped students to get the word around campus because over the weekend I don’t know how much people are interacting and speaking with each other” about UCS politics, Vanderpool added.
“I believe that most if not all of us on UCS understood that the claims in the petition are false and made in bad faith, but we wanted to make sure students felt heard and respected in this matter using their own voice,” Zhong wrote in a statement he shared on Instagram Jan. 31.
“There were a lot of harmful exchanges going on. We wanted to (make the election happen) as soon as possible,” said Nam. He added that asking a yes-or-no question for the recall, rather than voting for specific candidates, is in line with the UCS Code of Operations.
The Student Activities Office offered the UCS Elections Co-Directors recommendations for the recall election procedures, according to Sporn. “We wanted to make sure that (the guidelines weren’t) solely coming from inside UCS,” he said.
If the recall passes, all undergraduate students — including seniors — will be eligible to apply for the open position to serve as UCS president until the end of the current semester, Nam said.
Vanderpool said that he believes holding an internal election to fill the presidential vacancy would be “unconstitutional” and “really unfair to the student body.”
Although holding an internal election is not specified in the Code of Operations, Nam stated that UCS wanted to be “consistent with what (they’ve) done for other vacancies in UCS e-board” — such as the internal election to fill the Undergraduate Finance Board vice chair in 2021.
“As it is a special election, we do have the flexibility to determine what that looks like. And that’s how we’ve interpreted” it, Nam added.
But Vanderpool said that special elections are considered so “not because there’s a different body of people voting (or) a different elector, but because they’re (just) happening at times outside of regularly scheduled elections.”
Nam recommended that students “do a lot of research (and) make sure you see both sides so that you’re informed for the actual vote.”
Sporn also said that the Elections Committee — which consists of members from UCS, UFB and the Class Coordinating Board — is currently working on a uniform elections code for the three branches of student government.
“The general Code of Operations for all three branches in terms of elections (is) both disjoint and convoluted,” he said.
Sporn added that the Student Government Association now refers to all members of UCS, UFB and CCB instead of just the leadership of the three branches. Members of the Elections Committee will present the new elections code — which is expected to be finished in two to three weeks, according to Sporn — to their respective branches, and all three branches will have to approve it, Nam said.
Information sessions for the SGA Spring Elections will be held on Mar. 1 and Mar. 3, according to the announcement establishing the recall election’s rules.
Kathy Wang is the senior editor of community of The Brown Daily Herald's 134th Editorial Board. She previously covered student government and international student life as a University News editor. When she's not at The Herald, you can find her watching cooking videos or writing creative nonfiction.