A hearing on Monday evening in regards to a grievance filed against presidential elect Colin Davis and running mate Tyler Takeshita for breaking campaigning rules, resulted in the two losing votes, but as of now, they retain their claim to office. After considering the grievance, ASSOU’s elections committee deemed that Davis and Takeshita had in fact violated campaign rules and invalidated 41 votes for the two, resulting in Davis and Takeshita holding onto office by a mere 2 votes.
The formal grievance, which was filed by Emily Pfeiffer and Ricardo Lujan-Valerio during election week, was in regards to two allegations of Davis breaking campaigning rules. The first grievance concerned “Ballin’ with Colin” campaign flyers being found inside of the Stevenson Union, a “safe-zone” which is off limits to the promotion of political campaigning and promotion.
Monday night saw a meeting room in the Stevenson Union, a windowed conference space in the ASSOU headquarters, filled to capacity with spectators pulling up chairs outside of the door to join in the public gathering. The Election Committee, comprised of five students who hold various positions in government or students services, heard all sides of the story and opened up the discussion to the gallery for questions and clarifications.
“We were not told those flyers would be put (in the SU), did not tell anyone to put them there, and had no knowledge that they were being put there,” said Takeshita, “We did not do it, so we should not be punished for something that we did not do.” Davis and Takeshita claimed that they never placed campaign flyers in the SU, but that someone they handed the flyers out to might have left it inside once they passed through the doors. The committee agreed that it was possible for this to happen, but made the case that it is the candidate’s responsibility to check these areas and make sure that they aren’t doing anything against the rules, intentionally or not.
“When (flyers are) found multiple times in the same place it seems more of a strategic move,” said Lujan-Valerio, “Every candidate is responsible for their campaign materials whether it is clean up or managing where it really is…If adequate punishments are not handed out for these violations then what is the point of these rules in the first place.”
The second allegation in the grievance was that Davis was campaigning during his office hours as Senator of Athletics and Recreation. The committee found that Davis violated ASSOU election rules and bylaws by not fulfilling his duties as senator while furthering his political campaign during his set office hours. Stating that office hours are a time when officers are payed to be made available to their constituents.
Once again, social media has played a part in this year’s election, as a screenshot from Snapchat, served as concrete evidence that Davis indeed attempted to further his presidential campaign. In response to this accusation, Davis confessed that he had posted the picture and it was still available on his Facebook.
He then explained his actions. During his office hours on the Thursday of Election week, he claimed that he had a meeting with one of his football coaches at 11 p.m. in the same building. Apparently, Davis informed the office clerk he’d be out for a bit and met with his positions coach. He did not alert his government supervisor which was in fact a violation of protocol. It was at then that Davis says that he had his last meeting with the coach who recruited him to SOU and had been his mentor, since he would be switching to a new program.
“I needed to get some space and try and take my mind off of it, he was a very big deal in my life,” said Davis, “As I was walking away I did take the photo at 11:37 and posted it at 11:44.” Davis claimed that he was emotionally distraught after saying goodbye to his mentor and took the time off of his remaining office hours for “self-care,” something ASSOU representatives at the hearing adamantly claimed is a priority to the organization. Though the “squad pic” wasn’t taken until later, the time stamp on the picture is 11:37 which does fall within the hours he’s supposed to be in office and not campaigning.
Around hour three of the meeting, nearly everyone was beginning to slouch in their seats. The room temperature had risen significantly from the bodies around the meeting table and crammed into the corner chairs. The Committee had agreed that Davis and Takeshita had, in fact, violated campaign rules, but the punishment was still undecided. “Rules are rules,” said Vice Speaker of the Senate Leo McCaffrey, multiple times throughout the night. His motion to disqualify Davis’s entire campaign died on the table after no other committee members voted to second it.
After deliberation, the Committee decided that a fair punishment would be to invalidate the votes received by Colin after the “squad pic” was taken. The photo was taken at 11:37, which is when Davis officially violated ASSOU fair campaigning rules, so every vote he received after that time would be declared invalid. After consulting with election results, and removing 41 student votes, it was deemed that Davis and Takeshita still held the presidency by a mere 2 votes.
“With this close of a margin I think a runoff should be on everyone’s mind,” said ASSOU chief Justice Jacob Rubanowitz. A runoff election would give student voters the opportunity to vote on an ASSOU president again, potentially changing their minds in light of these campaign violations. A runoff ballot is traditionally declared if two candidates tie an election, but with such a close margin of victory for Davis and Takeshita it is certainly within the realm of possibility.
After the ruling on Monday night, it would appear that Davis will be sworn in as president. But in his mind, the office hasn’t yet been won.
“I would be very surprised if a new grievance wasn’t filed against me,” said Davis on Tuesday evening.