After hearing a dozen complaints filed against student government candidates Wednesday, an election board decided that the results of the fall election would stand, with Inspire winning every office except one.
“Some complaints merited no infraction points, others accrued a few,” said Connor Evans, interim election commissioner. “None were enough to disqualify a candidate.”
Current and former CUSG office-holders represented the Inspire and Pulse tickets during the public hearing, which took place from 3 to 5 p.m. in a Koelbel Business School classroom.
Speaking on behalf of Inspire were candidates Alexis Scobie, Maddison Saavedra, Nate Wallshein and Coco Wham; former Representative Danielle Watkins-Green; former Senator of the College of Engineering to CUSG David Gillis; and Scobie’s father, Patrick, a Denver attorney.
Speaking on behalf of Pulse were candidates Harmann Bajwa and Magnolia Landa-Posas; Co-Director of Diversity Affairs Emma Harsin-Drager; Representative Neelah Ali; and Vice President of Legislative Council Zeke Johnson.
Evans, CUSG Finance Board Chairman Chris Marshall and Honor Board Chairman Will Hauptman presided over the hearing, considering 12 complaints filed by both parties.
Inspire alleged “Facebook libel,” harassment and “destruction of campaign materials” against Pulse, while Pulse accused Inspire of libel, illegal campaigning and “dorm-storming.”
Post-election filings are common, but Evans said this year was different.
“There are typically not this many complaints,” he said.
Pulse played defense first as Inspire, led by law school student Wallshein, explained their complaints. In two instances, Inspire candidates felt personally attacked by Pulse—Watkins-Green by a Facebook post from Harsin-Drager, and Scobie by Bajwa during a debate.
Harsin-Drager’s post, which quoted her sister as saying Inspire seemed to be “a real denial of the experience that defines our student body,” made Watkins-Green “feel awful and bad,” she said. “Because we’re very open-minded people.”
Scobie said Bajwa questioned her ability as a CUSG official in front of the debate audience by incorrectly stating that Scobie had been “kicked out of office” from a previous position.
Pulse, armed with a copy of “Black’s Law Dictionary,” rebuffed both claims. In the Facebook case, Zeke Johnson said Harsin-Drager’s post was not a reflection of the overall campaign, as she was not directed by anyone to write it. Bajwa denied using the term “kicked out of office,” saying, “My intention was wondering why she wasn’t re-elected.”
Inspire’s Maddison Saavedra recalled another incident, in which a Pulse volunteer approached her in the UMC and aggressively “started getting in my face.” David Gillis was called to provide a witness statement, and Johnson did not hesitate to point out that Gillis had previously run for office alongside Inspire candidates.
But Pulse’s witness statement, used during the dorm-storming complaint it filed against Inspire, appeared to have a similar bias. Hayden Hedman, an RA in Baker Hall, said he saw Scobie and Coco Wham in the building, campaigning for Inspire.
“They were unescorted by a Baker resident,” Hedman said. “That’s considered a violation.”
Dorm-storming—going door-to-door in residence halls—is banned by CUSG’s election code. However, Scobie maintained that they were with a resident and added that Hedman was a Pulse volunteer.
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Pulse also took issue with a “fundamentally libelous” statement on Inspire’s Facebook page. The statement, which read “The current legislative body all voted to raise student fees last budget cycle,” was “injurious” to Pulse, Johnson said.
Pulse won the spring election and holds the majority of CUSG offices, but Inspire defended their statement by saying the name “Pulse” was nowhere in the written statement.
“How can we speak ill of them if we didn’t even mention their name?” Scobie said.
Inspire also accused Pulse, specifically Watkins-Green, of campaigning at the business school which was off limits in election guidelines determined by JohnMichael Thistle, the previous election commissioner, for whom Evans was taking over.
“It creates an unfair advantage for that ticket, allowing them to be present when they otherwise wouldn’t,” Johnson said.
Watkins-Green said she took the appropriate steps to secure the spot for tabling, although she went through the business school, not Thistle. Additionally, tabling is not mentioned in the section of the election code that lists possible infractions.
Although CUSG did not disclose the outcome of every case, Evans said his panel had made its decisions.
Despite tensions between the two tickets and the abundance of complaints, Evans said he, Marshall and Hauptman took every case seriously.
“When making a decision on these complaints, we need to make absolutely sure there is firm, substantial evidence of the offense,” he said.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Annie Melton at Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org.