Ole Miss personality elections funded by Greek organizations, candidates not required to disclose donations

Posted on Oct 8 2018 - 5:50am by Taylor Vance

All but one candidate who ran for this year’s personality elections were affiliated with a Greek organization, and candidates were, once again, not required to officially report who donated to their campaign this past election cycle.

All three candidates for Miss Ole Miss — Hannah Bullock, Jessica Tran and Jessi Lockett — told The Daily Mississippian they were funded by their respective Greek organizations.

Mr. Ole Miss candidates Mack Hubbell and Mikhail Love said they were funded by their Greek organizations, and Jarvis Benson said he self-funded his campaign.

Mr. Ole Miss Chauncey Mullins said his campaign was funded by donations, but he never clarified where the donations came from. Mullins is president of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

This election is the first personality election since former ASB Attorney General Katherine Sistrunk resigned from her position saying she realized that Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council organizations provided advantages to their members running in student elections that non-Greek affiliated candidates are not afforded.

“As a member of our Greek community, I have benefited from this system, and I have been provided these advantages,” Sistrunk said in a statement. “By publicly acknowledging this, I believe that we can reform this culture to be more inclusive and work to make student elections more equitable.”

Judicial Council Chair Alex Crouch, ASB Vice President Walker Abel and ASB President Elam Miller, representing the three heads of the different branches of student government, issued a statement in support of Sistrunk following her resignation.

“It is our hope that (Sistrunk) and others passionate about election reform will implement change for our community,” the statement read.

Since then, Sistrunk and Leah Davis, chair of inclusion and cross cultural engagement, have formed an Election Reform Task Force, where they intend to host public forums on Oct. 23 and Nov. 14 to hear students concerns and opinions about the current elections process.

“The task force is dedicated to increasing transparency within the election process, and we are working with different student organizations, and getting advice from various faculty, staff, and University leadership in accomplishing this goal,” Sistrunk and Davis said in an email response to The Daily Mississippian.

Over the past 15 years, only one non-Greek affiliated candidate has ever been elected Mr. or Miss Ole Miss. Acacia Santos, who was the 2016-2017 Miss Ole Miss, ran while unaffiliated to any Greek organization.

ASB Attorney General Austin Fiala said he was pleased with how fall elections turned out, and the attorney general’s office only received four campaign violations.

“In its present form, the ASB Code does not mandate campaigns to disclose campaign donations,” Fiala said. “In order to change this, legislation would need to be drafted and passed by the ASB Senate. My primary job as ASB Attorney General is to serve as the custodian of the Code and Constitution. As the Code, presently, does not mandate this disclosure, and as my responsibility is to interpret the Code as written, it would be improper for me to comment on the ethicality of the issue.”