Monday, December 2, 2013

SGA elections, real and bogus


In the spring of 2013 a Student Government Association (SGA) election was held to select an SGA President, Vice President, student representative to the Board of Trustees, Secretary, and Senators. This was the last SGA election held under the SGA constitution and by-laws. In that election Brittany Bailey was elected president by a margin of 292 votes to 80 for the other candidate. Willie Preston was elected student representative to the Board of Trustees with 236 votes; the other two candidates received 37 and 88 votes.

The administration voided the election. (Preston got the results under a Freedom of Information Act request.) Then Preston was suspended from the university for the fall semester. Subsequently he has been expelled from the university. I invite others who have more information about these disciplinary actions to post them on the blog.

This fall an “SGA election” was held. A “Board of Elections” was set up to administer the elections. (I use scare-quotes because the Board of Elections is a body under SGA by-laws, and this “Board of Elections” did not operate under these by-laws.) Brittany Bailey ran for student representative to the Board of Trustees. Eventually she was “disqualified” under the “election rules” of the “Board of Elections.” As far as I can tell her disqualification was illegal. Like Willie Preston, she is simply someone the administration did not want to hold the position of student rep to the BOT.

At the time of the fall “SGA election” the only operative constitution and by-laws were those for 2012-2013 since they had not been superseded by later documents. I have looked over the SGA constitution and by-laws and tried to study the Elections Policy, which is part of the SGA by-laws, more carefully. I have reached the following conclusions.

1.      The “Board of Elections” had no authority to make additional election rules besides those contained in the SGA by-laws Elections Policy.

2.      There is no prohibition of non-students campaigning for a candidate.

3.      There is no prohibition of campaigning in classrooms.

4.      There is no prescribed sanction for distribution of fliers which have not been stamped, only for POSTING unapproved fliers or posters.

5.      The BOE has no authority to issue sanctions for actions which are not violations of the Elections Policy.

As far as I can tell the “BOE” had no authority under the SGA Constitution and by-laws, specifically the Elections Policy, to strike Brittany Bailey’s name from the ballot for any of the alleged violations, none of which is a violation of SGA Elections Policy.

When the “Board of Elections” met with Students for Justice, I was told that Byron Stanley, the chair of that group, claimed that they were not operating under the SGA constitution. But if so, they had no authority to hold an SGA election, since that can only be legitimately held under the SGA constitution.

More recently, there was a disciplinary hearing for Brittany Bailey. I invite others to fill in more details here.

In summary: Brittany Bailey and Willie Preston were elected in the spring SGA election, which the administration voided. Preston was suspended and then expelled. Then a bogus “election” was held in the fall; Bailey was disqualified for actions which are not prohibited in SGA elections policy. Then a disciplinary hearing was convened for her.

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