It was a case of miscommunication said Judelande Jeune and Wes Viola, two students running for student body president and vice president, respectively.
The pair's ticket was disqualified Thursday because the candidates missed a mandatory candidate meeting. In order to run for office, according to Student Government (SG) statutes, candidates for a president/vice president ticket are required to attend at least one official candidate meeting, as well as one additional meeting with the Supervisor of Elections. The current Supervisor of Elections is Carson Sadro.
Jeune said she and Viola received an email from Sadro telling the two they needed to attend two candidate meetings and a meeting with Sadro. The addition of a third meeting, Jeune said, was a little confusing when they checked the statutes.
Jeune and Viola said they arrived at 6:45 p.m. last Thursday in order to make a candidate meeting at 7 p.m. They were told that the candidate meeting was actually at 8 p.m. and so they waited for an hour. Before they went into the meeting, Jeune and Viola recalled being approached by Sadro and Attorney General Richard LaMura who told them them their absence at the 7 p.m. meeting meant they had been disqualified.
The two went to the 8 p.m. meeting and then returned for the all-presidents meeting, which was listed in the election packet as being held on Friday. However, they said they were told something very different when they arrived.
“For us to be told at noon, right when the presidential meeting was supposed to happen and we both came out of our way to come to this meeting, and it being told to us that the meeting wasn’t happening, and just again with miscommunication and unclarified things across the board, I’m really surprised,” Viola said.
The two came back on Friday for a meeting with Sadro at noon, as listed in the election packet. However, when they arrived, they said Sadro was not there. When contacted, she apologized and clarified that the 8 p.m. meeting on Thursday was the president’s meeting.
The two requested an emergency meeting where they presented their side to Student Government Advising, Training and Operations Director Gary Manka, and Sadro.
“We brought up different precedents; we brought up different titles; however, that was not taken into account,” Jeune said. “We brought up intent and motives, which is always present in the court of law, but that was not taken into account, as well.”
Jeune and Viola received an official email from Sadro telling them their ticket was disqualified.
They don’t recall the other candidates having any problems. There has been some miscommunication and pushing back of meetings. It hasn’t been the only mistake in SG lately, Jeune said, recalling a purported mix-up in the Activity and Service Fee Recommendation Committee (ASRC) that she said affected funding for 80 student organizations. That, she said, was easily fixed.
The pair’s situation has not met the same reaction.
“That was going to affect them,” Jeune said. “However, when it affects other students, they’re not so easily to kind of reach out and kind of fix their mistakes. So, Wes and I, we just want a fair process.”
The two plan to appeal their disqualification to the SG Supreme Court, submitting the appeal on Monday.
Because the disqualification is being appealed, Sadro declined to comment on the situation. LaMura also declined to comment. Manka referred all questions to Sadro.
Jeune and Viola both feel this situation will affect their platform as they continue to try to run for president and vice president. Both candidates have been members of SG for over a year. SG, Jeune said, gives a student a number of privileges and a degree of power, which she has a new perspective on now.
“I think that being on the other side … kind of opens our eyes to kind of the advantages and power that (SG) has and how sometimes that it becomes so easy for them to just say ‘Hey students, you’re handed this, but (SG) internally we can do whatever we want and it doesn’t really matter,’” Jeune said. “So I think that will definitely change our platform to kind of re-evaluate how internally the (SG) works.”
The whole situation, to Viola, doesn’t seem like a proper reaction.
“Such a minor mistake that can be summed up to miscommunication on both ends and for it to, you know, completely dismiss us, disqualify us from the race is outlandish,” Viola said.