Candidate files 22 grievances against opponent, cites reckless behavior among the charges

One photo shows a presidential candidate holding a black handgun and a container of alcohol. Another photo shows that person bending over and allegedly “mooning” another country.

That behavior by Student Government (SG) presidential candidate Andrew Cohen is what opponent Daniel Dunn calls “horrifying,” and it’s one of the reasons why Dunn and his campaign filed 22 grievances to the Election Rules Commission (ERC) against Cohen and his campaign Monday.

Cohen, who filed grievances against presidential candidate Cesar Hernandez’s campaign last week, said Tuesday that filing grievances is not what election time should be used for. Dunn, a senior majoring in philosophy, said he thinks the grievances speak for themselves.

More than half of the grievances target offenses in connection with violations for campaign logos. But the rest deal with code of conduct: one for harassment, two for providing false information and one for reckless behavior.

One of the grievances, which was filed for violation of the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity’s Discrimination and Harassment Policies, shows Cohen and an unidentified male “mooning” another country, claims the official grievance.

“… Both standing at what appears to be a perimeter fence in Israel. Mr. Cohen’s pants are lowered, and he appears to be ‘mooning’ the Palestinians on the other side of the fence,” the grievance says.

The photo shows the individuals with their backside to a tall, chain-linked fence with barbed wiring on the top of it. But Cohen, who is Jewish, said he was not making the gesture at Palestine.

“What that individual did say where I was is 100 percent, with certainty, incorrect and unnecessarily inflammable of my character,” Cohen said.

When Cohen, SG director of University and Community Affairs, was asked where he was in the photo, he would not say – only that he was out of the country with friends.

“My first thought is why an individual would take the time and effort or the need to look through my personal photos on my personal Facebook profile … I do see myself as a public figure since I do work in Student Government and I’m running for president, but I do also have a private life,” Cohen said.

The grievance relating to a photo showing Cohen, 21, holding a handgun and a container of alcohol was filed under Reckless Injurious Behavior in the Student Code of Conduct.

“The Dunn/Jones campaign is horrified to find that this kind of behavior that other tickets feel is becoming of a candidate for Student Body President,” the grievance says.

Dunn and Jones filed five grievances for violation of implied endorsement and five for misuse of materials belonging to the University. Dunn said this refers to the University’s font on Cohen’s campaign signs in the following areas: Cooper Hall, Andros Center, Campus Recreation Center, Argos Dining Center and Juniper-Poplar Residence Hall.

The logos feature a white oval on a blue or white background with three lines of text: “VOTE, FEBRUARY 22ND – 26TH” and “SG.USF.EDU/VOTE.”

“The logo’s block lettering is done in the font family Goudy, USF’s official typeface,” the grievance says.

“By using the Goudy typeface, you’re implying endorsement by USF,” Dunn said Tuesday.

However, Cohen said he used the font Adobe Garamond Pro, and University spokesman Michael Hoad said USF doesn’t own the Goudy font, so it seems the violation issue would be up to SG.

In terms of a legal issue, Hoad said, the University could write a letter asking the individual to not use the font anymore.

Another grievance was also filed for implied endorsement and misuse of materials on the campaign’s Facebook page and Web site, CohenDiaz2010.com.

“This logo is copyrighted for the Cohen/Diaz campaign, and uses an official university typeface to portray the campaign as ‘endorsed’ or ‘more official’ than other campaigns,” the grievance says.

Cohen said he feels like he and his running mate, Matthew Diaz, have been singled out.

“There are few candidates – there are some – but there are few candidates with things to offer and the others are just using this opportunity to smear another individual’s name,” he said.

Dunn said he would like Cohen to withdraw from the race.

“I’d hate to see it come to a disqualification, but I respectfully request that he withdraw,” he said.

Six grievances were also filed claiming trademark infringement for logos used on CohenDiaz2010.com, Facebook and signs in the Andros Center, Argos Dining Center, Cooper Hall, Campus Recreation Center and Juniper-Poplar Residence Hall.

Two grievances claim Cohen provided false information when he filed his own grievances against Hernandez’s campaign and tried to remain anonymous.

“As a matter of due process, it would be impossible for a valid grievance to be filed anonymously,” the grievance states. “Furthermore, there is nothing in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (the Buckley amendment, which ensure privacy for students with regards to academic records and performance) which could have possibly deceived the Cohen/Diaz campaign, or Attorney General Cordell Chavis, into believing that such privacies extended to a public forum of Student Government, and its elections.”

But Cohen said he didn’t ask to remain anonymous under the FERPA law. Supervisor of the ERC Michael LeBlanc said the ERC would try to hold a hearing in the next 48 hours. The elections end Friday.

If the grievances are found accurate, Cohen and Diaz could be allotted points, and no candidates can have more than 10 points to avoid disqualification.

He said the candidates could appeal grievances that are found true. LeBlanc said he doesn’t foresee the hearing process to last longer than election week.

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