The Associated Students, Inc. board of directors ruled that a re-election would be too expensive after the judicial council made the proposal due to grievances candidates filed against one another.
Candidates filed grievances against one another this past month during the ASI election, claiming that their opponents have broken election codes, such as campaigning in non-designated areas, using a residential assistant program to bribe students and conducting door-to-door solicitations in the dorms.
Interim ASI Executive Director Aimee Barnes suggested a new election process after witnessing the complications surrounding the elections and the difficulty candidates are facing due to the grievances they filed against one another.
The total amount spent on this election added up to $40,000 – paid by SF State students – and conducting a new election would require the same amount. The motion for a special re-election failed.
Barnes believed that these issues resulted from a last-minute decision in February to have an election packet and that inconsistencies in the elections code are now being used as loopholes.
“I’ve seen things in this election process that I have never seen before,” Barnes said. “I’ve had colleagues comment about this election process. I’m embarrassed.”
An ASI board meeting planned to deliberate eight cases on Wednesday’s meeting but only tackled two because of differing opinions on how to address the Harvill, et al v. Thomas, et al grievance case.
The case alleges that Jordan Thomas, Asia Island, Gaby Cerros and Alisar Mustafa “used (the) residential assistant program to bribe students to vote and precluded other candidates from participating, according to the grievance filed by James-Harvill.”
Claimant Jordan James-Harvill asserted that Thomas and members involved violated Section IX of SF State’s election code packet, which states that “candidates shall not direct AS employees, staff, etc. to campaign on his or her behalf. Additionally, candidates shall not direct SFSU administrators, staff, professor, teacher assistants, faculty members, etc. to campaign on his or her behalf.”
The defendant, Thomas, vice president of internal affairs, denied the allegations.
“I was in a separate group. At no point did anybody say ‘hey, vote for Stronger Together,” Thomas said.
The judicial council voted to dismiss the case in a 2-1-1 (two in favor, one opposed and one abstained) vote, concluding that there was no evidence supporting James-Harvill’s claims.
Vice President of External Affairs Celia LoBuono Gonzalez, who opposed the suggestion to conduct a new election, expressed her disappointment in the council’s recommended disposition on the grievance.
LoBuono Gonzalez claimed that it was unreasonable to conclude that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the claims.
“I encourage you all to look at the statements provided by the Justices,” LoBuono Gonzalez said. “The dismissing opinion stated that there wasn’t enough evidence, but there was over 50 pages of evidence submitted that included audio recording testimonies, multiple student and candidates statements and photos.”
LoBuono Gonzalez also pointed out the council’s blatant disregard for Justice Alfred Alexander’s statement corroborating claims in the grievance.
“I was physically there when I saw slate Stronger Together handing out donuts to people who (had) voted,” Alexander said.
Alexander also stated that the council’s recommendation to dismiss the case was not the right choice and recommended that the votes following the incidents should not be counted.
Evan Gothelf, who also filed a grievance against Jordan Thomas, moved to redact Strong Together votes earned on April 5 from 2 p.m. to April 6, 3 p.m.
LoBuono Gonzalez second the motion and the board of directors decided that it wouldn’t be fair to eliminate votes for that 24-hour period because other factors independent from the allegations contributed to those votes.
“That day, on the fifth, was when we released our video which had 4,000 views and I also talked to organizations that day,” unofficial president Jacqueline Foley said. “I want to make those things clear because this affects the official election results.”
Foley also clarified that even though she was mentioned in most of the grievances, she was not present in any of the described incidences. Foley, along with Gothelf, opposed the motion for a re-election due to its potential financial impact.
LoBuono Gonzalez suggested a special board meeting this week to discuss the next steps the board should take and how to address these issues on the table.
“Think about the bigger financial impact,” LoBuono Gonzalez said. “We do not have enough legal opinion before making decisions.”