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SGA elections marred in grievances

SGA elections marred in grievances

By Jonathan Bym, Editor

Candace Locklear was named SGA president on April 7 despite not being on either ballot as president.

During the campaign, both presidential candidates filed grievances against each other for breaking campaign rules, which eventually led to the disqualification of both candidates, Robert Hamilton and Biruk Kassaw. According to SGA Advisor Heather Bennett, the succession plan was then implemented instead of a new election.

This is an unprecedented occurrence for the SGA, so this was something that had to be figured out immediately.

“The day that the election went live, both candidates filed grievances against each other,” Bennett said. “SGA’s current constitution doesn’t really have a process for when that happens.

“It was recommended that we have an ad hoc review panel to review the cases, hear both sides, allow them to question each other and to also interview witnesses they filed in their grievances.”

The panel made a recommendation to the Division of Student Affairs before the announcement was made final.

The grievance filed against Kassaw from Hamilton was that Kassaw went around the UC taking down trifold table toppers away, which goes against campaign rules.

Kassaw filed a grievance against Hamilton for bribery, and the panel found that he broke a campaign rule of giving away items worth more than $2 when he paid a student $50 to chalk the sidewalks around campus.

There was a lot of room for interpretation for some of the campaign rules and Bennett said this fall the SGA plans on taking away some of the gray area in the campaign rules.

Both Hamilton and Kassaw have served with SGA at many different capacities with Kassaw coming into the campaign as the incumbent.

Bennett said that this really shook up the election and how things are usually run.

“It always throws a curveball in there,” she said. “It is just very unique to see two candidates filing against each other.”

Since the announcement, Hamilton has appealed the ruling and will meet with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. John Jones to discuss the panel’s decision.

In the fall semester, Locklear will select a vice president candidate that will be approved by the SGA senate.