Allegations of misconduct plague ASI election
The Associated Students, Inc. judicial council held a third hearing that tackled grievances filed against ASI candidates suspected of breaking election code.
Rodrigo Polidano, a science and engineering representative candidate, filed a grievance against his opponent Mohammed Alnuzaili, accusing him of posting campaign fliers in certain areas of campus not allowed for campaigning.
Alnuzaili posted campaign fliers in the engineering stockroom bulletin board, which violates the elections code stating that candidates are allowed to post on public bulletin boards only. The engineering stockroom bulletin board is not considered a public space because it’s specifically designed for a work site on campus. The judicial council decided the defendant was guilty of a minor offense.
Another case postponed at Monday’s hearing addressed an issue regarding proper campaign practices. International relations and philosophy major Evan Gothelf filed a grievance against Jordan Thomas of Stronger Together. Thomas is a current ASI board member, vice president of internal affairs candidate and a resident assistant. The grievance alleges that Thomas used residential life resources and campaigned during a Residential Life event on campus where his fellow candidates were asked to leave.
In the grievance, Gothelf claims that he and Richard Schwanbeck, a senior history major, were walking around campus on April 5 when they noticed Thomas and a group of students handing out donuts in exchange for their votes. Gothelf said that Thomas, after noticing him, immediately distanced himself from the active voters.
A young woman approached Gothelf and Schwanbeck holding a box of donuts and Stronger Together fliers and asked if they had already voted, telling them they would receive donuts if they did. Schwanbeck asked if he had to vote a certain way in order to receive donuts, but the woman didn’t reply. They soon noticed people were asked for a voter’s receipt to receive a donut.
Gothelf said there were also other candidates who wanted to participate in what he assumed was an event organized by Residential Life to help encourage students to vote. However, these candidates were excluded by the students who were in charge of the polling table. Gothelf thought it was suspicious that they let Thomas give out donuts in exchange for votes while handing out fliers.
“You have basically ResLife employees using their position and the money they are afforded in that position to affect student government campaigns,” Gothelf said.
On the same day, ASI vice president of internal affairs candidate Monica DiLullo of Reclaim SFSU approached the polling table in Malcolm X Plaza. DiLullo said she asked if she could introduce herself to students but received an awkward stare from the organizers, so she offered to help without introducing herself.
Mia Veal, an RA and candidate running for College of Liberal and Creative Arts representative, informed DiLullo that students were going to be voting at the polling table in Malcolm X Plaza and that candidates had to be 15 feet away from active voters. Again, DiLullo offered to help encourage students to vote while promising to stay 15 feet away from voters.
“The (residential assistant) told me they didn’t want any of the candidates there influencing any of the students’ decisions,” DiLullo said. “He said it to all four of us, including Mia, who is an RA. So we left.”
According to Residential Life Director David Rourke, the polling table was not organized by Residential Life, at least not to the extent of his knowledge.
“I am not aware of a Residential Life-sanctioned polling table for the ASI election on April 5,” Rourke said.
It is still unclear as to who organized this polling table but following this incident, Thomas’ slate Stronger Together’s vote count doubled up.
“It’s not an issue if they did it legitimately, but they were giving out donuts and saying ‘Hey, if you vote, we’ll give you a donut and here’s who we are and this is why you should vote for us,’” Schwanbeck said.
The grievance was originally going to be discussed at a judicial council hearing on Monday, but was postponed. According to Section XI of SF State’s election code policies, grievances must be signed and completed by the candidate initiating the grievance. The grievance against Thomas does not qualify as a legal grievance because Gothelf is not an ASI candidate.
The rest of the grievances the judicial council was able to discuss during Monday’s hearing involved offenses such as candidates posting fliers in non-designated areas, not staying 15 feet away from an active voter, using campaign materials that weren’t approved by the elections commissioner and campaigning in non-designated areas. All these specifications are detailed in the ASI Student Government Election Code Packet that all candidates were required to read.
The council heard four grievances Monday and cancelled four, including Thomas’ case. Thomas, who didn’t show up at the hearing, refused to comment on the matter.
The hearing for the postponed grievances has not yet been scheduled and the announcement date for official elections results is still pending.