On last day, candidate drops out

Meghan Holden

On the eve of the all-campus student elections, one of the three candidates contending to be the next Minnesota Student Association president dropped out of the race.
 
Political science junior Prahith Chakka took his name off the ballot Tuesday morning and announced his support for international business junior Henry Benson. 
 
“A lot of our ideas more or less overlap, and we didn’t feel that it would be a good idea to split the vote,” Benson said. 
 
Benson will now go head-to-head with current MSA president Joelle Stangler, who’s running for an uncommon second term representing the student body. 
 
Chakka said he’s shifting his efforts toward backing Benson to ensure the current administration sees an overhaul. Both Benson and Chakka criticized MSA, describing it as an exclusive and toxic environment.
 
Chakka said some of Stangler’s supporters sent tweets attacking the other candidates last week during an MSA presidential and vice presidential debate.
 
“With the tone of Joelle’s campaign, and the activity of the people who support her campaign, it was clear we could very straight up say we don’t want her to win again,” Chakka said.
 
Stangler’s running mate and MSA’s student outreach and engagement director Abeer Syedah said she and Stangler aren’t focused on what the opposition is doing, “especially because we have seen tactics that are best ignored.”
 
Syedah said some of their supporters had inklings that Chakka and Benson had planned for Chakka to drop out at the last minute, though she wasn’t sure that was the case.
 
Chakka refuted those claims and said it’s not uncommon to withdraw at the last minute and then endorse another candidate.
 
The contenders will have until the end of the school week to win over students’ votes before the polls close on Friday at 8 p.m. The results will be released on Sunday evening.
 
“The students are more or less picking between change of the structure of MSA … versus keeping things as they are,” Benson said. “Obviously, it’s getting a little bit more and more intense as the election heats up.”