Although my position within the Associated Student Body by no means requires me to explain the logic of the decisions made by my council, there has clearly been a misunderstanding as to why a candidate was disqualified in the Fall 2019 Personality Elections. So, to clarify our decision: it was not just about the flowers.
The decision made was done so out of the legal responsibility expected of both the ASB Judicial Council and the ASB Attorney General’s Office to uphold the ASB Code and Constitution. Are there parts of the code which need to be rewritten in terms of elections violations? Of course.
As it is written now, there are violations in which a standing rule has already been determined in the Code and Constitution, with little to no room for the rule to be altered based on the severity of the situation. However, our job is to make decisions based on how the law is written at that moment in time – not how we want it to be understood at that time. Based on the current version of the ASB Code and Constitution, candidates are to be held responsible not just for their individual actions but also for the actions of their campaign team or of any affiliated organizations.
After elections results were announced, news broke that the candidate was disqualified because her sorority, Delta Gamma, had sent flowers to other sorority houses across campus. Flowers in the colors of the candidate’s campaign were sent with the message “don’t forget to vote.”
As a rule for all general elections, a candidate is to be immediately disqualified if it is found that the candidate, or any campaign representative or organization affiliated with said candidate, has bribed someone to vote. In this case, flowers were sent by Delta Gamma as a gift which attempted to garner more voters in the runoff elections. However, our decision was not just about the individual candidate and her involvement with the flowers; we made our decision because an organization which helped sponsor the candidate flagrantly broke a campaign rule.
If we continue to allow organizations to be the primary sponsors of campaigns, then candidates will continue to be held accountable for the actions of said organization – whether or not they were privy to such actions shows a fault in communication, not a fault in the law.
So, what was going on during all that time many of you had to wait outside of the Lyceum, wanting to hear the results? We wanted to make the best decision possible for the situation at hand. We had to navigate a tough situation, one in which we ultimately had to disqualify a candidate because of the actions of others, but we are bound to the constitution, and it is out of our control to interpret the constitution however we please. Our job is to uphold said rules: anything less would have been an abuse of our power. So, before you rant about how a candidate was disqualified merely because of flowers, just know that it was never just about the candidate or the flowers. It was about the role of an organization in the context of the Code and Constitution, both which fall far outside my or my council’s jurisdiction.
Liza Boyer is the current Judicial Chair of the Associated Student Body.