Student Body President Moneer Kheireddine and Vice President Shaquille Kent were sworn in 30 minutes after the Dean of Students, Danielle McDonald, overturned the ticket’s disqualification.
The full Senate Chambers erupted in cheers as Kheireddine made his way to the front of the Chambers where he set his hand on the Student Government constitution and stumbled over the oath of office.
“I do hereby affirm to hold the office of student body president, to abide by the student body constitution, to uphold the statutes incorporated therein, to represent the student body to the best of my ability,” he repeated after Chief Justice Milton Llinas.
The ceremony came seven weeks after the announcement that the ticket won with 5,285 of the 8,636 votes cast, or 200 more than were cast in total last year.
After the ticket was disqualified by a ruling issued by the SG Supreme Court on April 12, the appeal moved to McDonald. In his appeal, Kheireddine argued a bias within the court, the statute’s vagueness and witness tampering.
Kheireddine’s opponent, Ryan Soscia, said in a previous interview with The Oracle that he would accept McDonald’s ruling. He could not be reached for comment.
The ticket was found in violation of “abuse of official capacity of their position (if employee of the university) for their own personal gain” when campaign volunteer Dika Ezevillo wore his name tag from his job at Career Services while campaigning. The Court voted unanimously that this was a violation of the statute regardless of whether his actions swayed voters.
However, in her decision of the appeal, McDonald found an error in due process by the Court using “standard of availability” to come to its decision. Essentially, the Court stated that it was an abuse of official capacity because the nametag was an item not all students campaigning had access to.
McDonald stated that there is no definition of “abuse of official capacity” within SG bylaws and therefore the Court overstepped its jurisdiction by creating a standard “that the parties could not predict would be a violation of this statute.”
“Chief Justice Llinas points out in his appeal response that all candidates were educated on the policies, but they had no way of know what standard of evaluation the Court would use,” she wrote. “I did not see any evidence provided by the responding parties that the candidates were ever told that wearing a student employee nametag would be defined as abuse of their official capacity of their positions.”
McDonald dismissed the claims of bias of Llinas for being difficult to prove based on student leaders knowing each other and developing friendships. She also dismissed Kheireddine’s claim of witness tampering because the witness who claimed to have been bribed wasn’t called to testify and it cannot be assumed that those who did were bribed.
The full inauguration ceremony is expected to be April 28 with the time and location yet to be announced.
"I’m simply proud. Proud of the team behind us, proud of the work all of us put in, proud of how we carried ourselves and proud of the vision Kent and I were able to create alongside the student body," Kheireddine said. "Despite how cliché this sounds, it’s a dream come true. I’m relieved, excited and ready for a new year with new beginnings for Student Government and USF as a whole."