Candidates for student body president Brandi Arnold and Jean Cocco face not only a second week at the polls, but also a list of grievances that could disqualify either one from the election and make the other the winner by default.
On Friday, the Election Rules Commission (ERC) documented its official opinion on three of the grievances filed so far in the student body elections after receiving complaints earlier in the week and hearings held Wednesday evening.
While one grievance filed against Arnold and her campaign was deemed invalid by the ERC, two grievances filed against Cocco were upheld for being minor violations in the ERC’s opinion.
While Arnold said the grievance filed against her campaign was “unfair,” and felt the ERC justly decided not to assess a violation, Cocco said the grievances filed against him need to be investigated further to see if they are “truly warranted.” He also said he felt he was being treated as if he was “guilty until proven innocent.”
“I am a concerned about the due process of the hearings and the ERC,” Cocco said. “There are bigger discrepancies in their procedure, and I plan to appeal this to SG’s Supreme Court and hopefully get another opinion on these procedural errors.”
Documents for the ERC’s grievance verdicts were not posted on Student Government’s website by Sunday evening; however, in documents emailed to The Oracle by Gary Manka, director of SG Advising, Training and Operations, errors appeared to be present on all the official verdicts filed.
In one grievance against Cocco’s campaign, in which the ERC found Cocco in violation of using Activity and Service (A&S) fee-funded materials to purchase business cards for his campaign, the document states Ahmad Saadaldin, a senior majoring in public relations, filed the grievance.
However, during Wednesday’s hearing discussing the issue, the head of the ERC and Supervisor of Elections Sayf Hassouneh said the same issue was being pursued by the ERC — not Saadaldin.
Saadaldin did, however, file the other grievance against Cocco, stating Cocco’s campaign webpage did not have a link to the SG voting website.
When asked for clarification on who pursued the A&S grievance, Manka said via email the ERC had filed it and there was a “typographical error.”
Hassouneh also replied via email, saying it was a mistake that “must have slipped” the ERC’s attention.
“We used the first grievance (the saadaldeen) [sic] grievance as a template to make it standardized,” Hassouneh said in the email.
Though there are other errors on the documents, Cocco said he is appealing the ERC’s opinion that he used A&S-funded business card because he disagrees with the ERC’s interpretation of what he said was a policy that “exists in the shadows.”
According to the ERC verdict, the reason for the judgment is that “free prints are A&S fee-funded privileges for all registered student organizations, even non-A&S funded organizations.” Hassouneh said there was a violation because the printing lab has an A&S funded account for all student organizations through a blanket purchase order with the A&S Business Office.
At the hearing, this violation was said to have occurred when Cocco’s campaign purchased business cards for $120 in the printing lab in the Marshall Student Center through the Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity.12