Newly elected student body president Bijal Chhadva and running mate Andrew Aubery were disqualified after seven students lodged complaints with the Student Government Election Rules Commission alleging overly aggressive campaigning. The pair will appeal the decision to the SG Supreme Court on Friday.
Chhadva said he was informed by letter late Tuesday that he and Aubery had been charged with violating SG statute 10.2.7, which prohibits the use of physical or mental intimidation or abuse. Violation of the statute carries a 10-point penalty, sufficient, according to SG rules, to warrant disqualification.
The SG Supreme Court will hear an appeal against the disqualification in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center on Friday at 2 p.m. Chhadva said he and Aubery are still deciding whether to represent themselves or to seek counsel.
Chhadva said he was aware there was an investigation taking place but that there was no truth behind the accusations.
“I’m personally surprised that such charges could be brought against us without being properly interviewed,” Chhadva said. “We really need our supporters to come out and support us because this definitely is a false accusation.”
ERC chairman Andrew Read could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Chhadva said he was also disappointed in the manner in which he was informed of his disqualification, learning the news from a letter placed in his SG mailbox rather than being told in person.
“I’ve been asking questions to people about what my violation was and trying to get people from Student Government to say what my violation was,” he said Ryan Caruso, SG senate president, said if the disqualification is upheld, Brandon Faza and J.P. Murphy, runners-up in the election and the runoff, would assume the student body presidency and vice presidency.
“There were seven people claiming that mental intimidation was brought upon them,” he said. “If the ERC does (assess the penalty), they would be removed, the election would be voided and you would have Faza and Murphy as president and vice president.”
Controversy is nothing new to SG elections. In the 2003 student body president Omar Khan was disqualified for campaigning in a classroom during a class and Mike Berman was disqualified for violating the same charge levied against Chhadva and Aubery. Khan’s case was dismissed when the SG Supreme Court recused themselves and a mistrial was declared.
Faza, who could become student body president by default, said he did not wish to comment on the charges levied against Chhadva and Aubery.
“The most respectful thing that I can do right now is not get involved and wish Bijal and Andrew the best of luck,” Faza said.
Despite the setback, Chhadva said he is optimistic their appeal will be successful.
“I’m pretty confident. We know we didn’t do anything,” Chhadva said. “The students voted for us and we’ll represent them. It’s just another hill we have to climb.”