SGA disqualifies unofficial student body president and vice president winners, names new official winners


Travis Fannon

Lizzy Hornung, left, and Jason Marcus were named the 2023 student body president and vice president on March 8.

Kendall Staton and Natalia Garcia

The UK Student Government Association (SGA) disqualified student body president-elect Isaac Sutherland and vice president-elect Mallory Hudson one week after they were named the unofficial winners of the election. 

One day after the disqualification of Sutherland and Hudson, SGA retabulated the votes and announced Lizzy Hornung and Jason Marcus as the official winners of the election, according to SGA Attorney General Kamryn Stewart. 

Polls for the student body presidential and vice presidential elections closed on Feb. 28. Later that day, SGA announced the Sutherland/Hudson campaign as the unofficial election winners. 

Sutherland and Hudson focused their campaign on increasing communication within the community in order to “bridge the gap” between the students and different organizations throughout UK. They said they hoped to continue minimizing this gap throughout their term. 

“One of the first things I want to do is recruit the most diverse and most populous application class for SGA because we want it to be competitive so we can choose the right representatives for campus,” Sutherland said.

Prior to their disqualification, Sutherland and Hudson said they felt privileged to represent the student body and wanted to remind students that they remain their priority. 

The SGA Supreme Court opens a filing period where students running for office can make “claims” of other campaigns potentially violating SGA governing codes. If the court finds these claims to hold merit, disqualification points are awarded to the violating campaign. 

Once a threshold of disqualification points is met by a campaign, they are disqualified from the race for office. The SGA governing codes set that threshold at 10 points, but the court has discretion to change the number should they see fit, according to Attorney General Stewart.

Sutherland said two other campaigns filed claims against his campaign team, totaling to nine claims.

According to Chief Justice Dustyn Sams, to determine the merit of a claim, the justices decide if the evidence shows there is a higher chance of a violation than a chance of compliance. 

“The question we ask ourselves is, ‘Is it more likely than not — is it over (a) 50% chance — that somebody has violated the code section?” Sams said.

The SGA Supreme Court held a hearing on Tuesday, March 7, where it decided to disqualify  Sutherland/Hudson for violating SGA governing codes during their campaign. SGA Election Commissioner Jacob Keeton announced the disqualification via a statement shared on Instagram the following day.

Sutherland/Hudson are aware of the claims the court found they violated, however the specific substantiated claims have not been shared with the public yet. 

Sutherland described the disqualification as “heartbreaking” and said his team did their best to campaign in a fair manner.

“Me and Mallory did try to the best of our ability to run a fair, clean campaign,” Sutherland said. “It is incredibly difficult to do everything right in the campaign and election cycle, and we really did try.”

The official opinion of the SGA Supreme Court, explaining why they allocated Sutherland/Hudson disqualification points, will be released in the following weeks on BBNvolved, according to Stewart. 

Isaac Sutherland and Mallory Hudson pose for a portrait on Monday, March 6, 2023, at the Gatton Student Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff (Carter Skaggs)

Upon publication and review of the opinion, Sutherland said he and Hudson will consider an appeal. 

“We’re not going to do anything out of a selfish desire. If the students want (a different campaign) to be their representatives, then we’re going to allow that to happen — especially for the students,” Sutherland said. “But we also want to ensure that students are being heard in a way that is proper.”

After the disqualification of the Sutherland/Hudson campaign, UKSGA convened at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8, to recount the votes cast by students. Later that night, Stewart told the Kernel SGA recognized Hornung and Marcus as the official winners of the election. 

“This is the official result … there are no other avenues of appeal for (the losing campaigns) within SGA,” Stewart said. “The claims process is the only appeals process that we have.”

Hornung called the process an “emotional roller coaster,” but thanked the student body for the support shown to their campaign.

Hornung and Marcus both spoke to unmet promises of previous student body representatives and said they want to make real change at the university.

After a tough battle for the winning seats in the election, the team agreed they want to keep academic success at the forefront of students’ minds. Hornung said they have outlined goals their team wants to meet, with a large focus on increasing student feedback. 

“One of our biggest goals is to set incentives for students to complete their teacher course evaluations because we believe that this is gonna have a really big impact on student daily life as far as the changes that it can make,” Hornung said. “Setting an incentive for that is only going to help us get more feedback.”

Marcus said even though he and Hornung have won the titles of student body president and vice president, this does not mean their opinions matter more than other students. He said all students are “on the same level,” and the goals their team wishes to accomplish puts students first. 

“We’re grateful for the support, we’re grateful for the love and compassion that people have in us,” Marcus said. “We cannot wait to uphold those promises that we made.”