I am the candidate who was disqualified from the Miss Ole Miss runoff election. After three grueling hours of hearings, I walked out of the Lyceum confused, frustrated and sad. My disqualification was not the result of any individual. Rather, it was caused by a flawed system. The individuals bound to uphold our Associated Student Body Code and Constitution have admitted that the code is vague in areas and should be revised, and I write this not out of spite or anger, but in the hope that it will produce change.
An example of the ambiguity of the code is Title V.d, Section 119(I): “No candidate may be disqualified unless the violations are found to be flagrant and intentional.” This was the piece of the code I referred to in my hearings because in my opinion, my violation was neither intentional, nor flagrant. I am unsure how ASB defines flagrant, but based off of past rulings, I feel that the definition is not always applied evenly.
I expect ASB to interpret the code as written, but I expect ASB to hold all candidates to the same standard. Last spring, a candidate was found to be in violation of the same regulation that I was, ASB Code: Title V.c, Section 113(Z), which states: “Any attempt by a candidate, campaign representative, or organization to coerce, bribe…or force a person to vote…shall result in the candidate’s immediate disqualification.” In this case, a member of that candidate’s campaign (a campaign representative) was coercing others to vote on the representative’s computer. The candidate and I were both unaware of our violations, but that candidate was not disqualified.
During this year’s personality elections, a candidate turned in their expense voucher late due to a misunderstanding between them and their campaign manager. ASB Code: Title V.c, Section 116(E) states that failure to submit a voucher “on the prescribed date and time shall result in disqualification” unless “determined to have been excusable due to unforeseeable and extremely mitigating circumstances.” While I understand that communicable misunderstandings can occur, I do not believe that this constitutes an “unforeseeable and extremely mitigating circumstance.” This candidate was also permitted to pay a fine instead of face disqualification.
ASB should also take the confidentiality of these proceedings as seriously as they take the code. I know the information of the two candidates aforementioned because member(s) of the Election Review Board (ERB) told me. Additionally, confidential information from my own hearing was told to non-ASB members that same night by a member(s) of the ERB. I have no issue with our students knowing the truth, but if I am told that hearings will be confidential, I expect that to be upheld.
I have a great respect for the people who did their jobs on Sept. 19, and I feel no anger toward any other candidates. I know that the ERB and the Judicial Council both made decisions that they felt upheld the ASB Code and Constitution. My issues lie in the fact that the code is vague in many areas, it has not been enforced fairly for all candidates and the confidentiality of proceedings has been breached by the same people enforcing these regulations. I encourage our ASB to spend time this year improving our code to clarify broad regulations and definitions so that every candidate is held to the same standard in the future.
Taran Carrasco won the majority of votes for the 2019-2020 Miss Ole Miss election but was disqualified for bribery that she did not know about, according to the ASB judicial chair.