Tsikata Apenyo and Abby Sherman.
The ASUP Elections Committee announced that presidential and vice presidential candidates Tsikata Apenyo and Abby Sherman will be disqualified from the ASUP presidential race at a Senate meeting on Monday at 4:30 p.m.
The run off election scheduled to take place Tuesday and Wednesday will still go on, but candidates Brandon Rivera and John Akers will be the only candidates on the ballot.
Rivera and Akers have to get 10 percent of the student body’s vote to legitimate their presidency and vice presidency. There will be no write-in ballot because the election is a run off.
The two reasons cited for Apenyo and Sherman’s disqualification were Campaigning at an ASUP event and Slander by supporters of the Apenyo/Sherman campaign.
The elections committee stated in a report detailing the cause of Apenyo and Sherman’s disqualification, “On the afternoon of Friday, March 25th, one of the elections committee members witnessed VP Candidate Ms. Sherman campaigning at FreshCheck Day, an ASUP sponsored event, which is a direct violation of the campaigning guidelines.”
The committee also collected a myriad of evidence that Apenyo was involved in last weekend’s “Bad Samaritan Annual International House Crawl,” which offered “official” support for Apenyo and Sherman.
Apenyo was listed as a host for the event on Facebook and charged students for alcohol through Facebook, which is a violation of the student conduct code.
After word got out about the house crawl to Public Safety, organizers canceled the event.
In the report, the elections committee stated, “As stated in our run off elections guidelines the candidates are responsible for their supporters actions. When House Crawl was canceled, members of this event wrote “You can thank the opposition”, implicitly blaming Rivera and Akers for the cancellation of this House Crawl. Roughly 700 people were invited to this event, meaning that a significant portion of the school could have been affected by unfair and unethical campaigning.”
In a Facebook post, Apenyo addressed the disqualification saying, “While we respectfully disagree with their decision, we have to accept this unforeseen outcome and should look for ways to move forward.”
Last Friday, the elections committee issued sanctions to Apenyo and Sherman for violating campaign guidelines. The violations were not grounds for disqualification, but the committee informed candidates that if they continued to violate election rules in the run off, they could be disqualified.
Victoria Beccar Valera, freshman chair of the elections committee, said the violations were largely related to Apenyo and Sherman’s campaign fliers that were distributed along with Red Bull cans throughout classrooms in Franz Hall. The fliers and energy drinks were classified as “unsolicited materials” and as “campaigning to a captive audience.”
“You’re not allowed to put posters in (the classrooms of) Franz or in any other classroom because students don’t have a choice of whether to be there or not,” Beccar Valera said.
Other complaints to the committee were related to an email sent out by the Pre-Med Club, coming from the “firstname.lastname@example.org” email related to the club’s Moodle group. Apenyo is the Vice President of the club and the email encouraged its upwards of 200 members to vote for Apenyo and Sherman.
It is not against campaign guidelines for a club to endorse candidates, however, guidelines state that candidates “may not campaign via email, voice mail, campus mail, by sliding material under doors or door to door campaigning in the residence halls.”
All posted materials must also bear an approval stamp from Student Activities. According to Beccar, Apenyo and Sherman’s fliers did not include this stamp.
Opposing candidates Brandon Rivera and John Akers did not receive any sanctions, but previous candidates juniors Jimmy McLaughlin and Moy Lemus did receive sanctions due to a perceived personal attack on another candidate.
In a Facebook group, McLaughlin wrote a post saying, “Or vote for me, I drank more beer just last night than Tsikata has in the last year.” McLaughlin and Lemus are also required to perform some kind of community service.
“The community wins because at this point, I’m pretty sure we all have to serve at least some time,” McLaughlin said.
Rivera and Akers said they do feel that the violations put them at a disadvantage in campaigning.
“There’s a reason six guys aren’t allowed on the (basketball) court,” Akers said. “I think the rules are there for a reason, to keep it equitable and fair and anytime they’re broken, there is a disadvantage. But I think that the elections committee will do what they need to do to make sure that’s all sorted and good to go.”
The Beacon will be following up with more updates about student and candidate response throughout the day.
See the full ASUP Elections Committee report by clicking on PDF image below.