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April 16, 2013

SG presidential candidate accused of foul play

Update May 26, 2013: As of April 24, 2013, an appeals committee convened by E&R reversed the vote penalty that had been put on Ignite for these and other allegations.

Two separate complaints have been filed against second-year Yusef Al-Jarani, current SG vice president of student affairs and the presidential candidate of the Ignite Slate, accusing him of early campaigning and offering individuals appointments on the SG cabinet. He has been issued a warning for early campaigning, but the Elections and Rules Committee (E&R) has not released a verdict for the second complaint.

Pre-campaigning is explicitly against the by-laws of E&R. Offering appointments is not explicitly mentioned in the by-laws but was addressed by E&R, according to committee members. Al-Jarani denies both claims.

The first complaint objected to alleged campaigning before the official start of elections. E&R received an anonymous complaint and an attached e-mail that provided evidence for the claim. Al-Jarani’s e-mail, dated March 29 and addressed to a current member of Graduate Council, read, “I just wanted to reach out to inform you of my intention to run for President of Student Government next year, and to seek out any support you could offer in that regard with campaigning at Booth. It can be anything from forwarding an email to list-hosts or helping to hand out flyers to students.”

Fourth-year and current E&R chair Lester Ang defined campaigning as a physical solicitation of votes such as hanging up posters and chalking sidewalks. For Ang, the word “support” does not necessarily count as a specific attempt to gain votes.

Additionally, because the infraction was prior to the mandatory SG candidates meeting on April 9, during which E&R explained and interpreted this year’s election rules to candidates, it was unfair to expect candidates to understand those particular interpretations before the meeting, Ang said.

“We saw it as a really fine line,” he said. “We have to make that distinction between informing and campaigning.”

Although Al-Jarani was subject to the same by-laws as a slate candidate during last year’s election, the interpretation of those rules change from year to year, Ang said.

According to Al-Jarani, the e-mails were meant to feel out potential running-mates for vice president of student affairs.

“When I was talking to individuals I was missing the third person in my team,” he said. He added that he only found Ignite’s third running-mate, physical sciences division Ph.D. candidate Anthony Martinez, at the first Graduate Council meeting of the quarter on April 1.

A second complaint made against Al-Jarani this quarter alleged that he offered to create cabinet positions for third-year Steph Mui, second-year Vidal Anguiano, and second-year Raymond Dong tailored to their interests. Mui and Dong are running together as part of UChicaGOLD against Al-Jarani’s executive slate.

One student, who requested anonymity because elections are ongoing, met with two members of E&R after issuing an e-mail statement to them alleging that Al-Jarani was offering positions in the SG cabinet. According to the student, E&R suggested Al-Jarani’s actions were unethical and said they would follow-up with the student. As of press time, the student had not been contacted by E&R about a verdict on the matter.

E&R said that it has addressed the second complaint but has not released the verdict. Ang said that the committee “reserves the right to reveal as much as we can” to both the complainant and the public, and in this case decided not to release more information at this point.

“E&R has seen nothing wrong in the conduct of the Ignite slate thus far,” fourth-year E&R member Sarah Iqbal said in an e-mail.

Al-Jarani said that he was not offering positions to those individuals, but rather talking about the possibility of expanding cabinet in light of conversations he had with his current slate about the organizational structure of student government associations at other Universities that have larger cabinets with more targeted positions.

“At the end of every meeting [I had with those individuals] I always encouraged people to do what’s best for them,” Al-Jarani said.

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