A.S. Elections Investigation Denies Second Student Appeal

Associated Students Judicial Council denied a second appeal from a group of Open People’s Party representatives contesting A.S. Elections Committee’s allegations that members of the party furnished alcohol to minors during Spring Elections.

Four unelected Democratic Process Party candidates were sworn in at last Wednesday’s Legislative Council meeting to replace four elected Open People’s Party representatives, who were given the option to either resign or be disqualified from the 2011-2012 council. Four current council members, OPP off-campus representatives Danielle Foster, Reena Fram and Drey Liautaud and OPP Representative-at-Large Nathan Walter have been given the ultimatum to either resign from office or serve their terms without honoraria.

Despite reports from other campus publications, the individuals have not been charged with soliciting votes in exchange for alcohol.

According to OPP member and A.S. President Harrison Weber, A.S. Judicial Council can either approve Elections Committee’s recommendations or take the case to a trial. Unless Judicial Council agrees to take the case, Weber said its specifics must remain confidential.

“Technically, according to the process, this is not public until Judicial Council decides to hear the case,” Weber said. “Whether or not I agree with the process, I have to defer to the wisdom of students past who constructed these policies.”

During public forum at yesterday’s legislative council meeting, third-year environmental studies major Marjan Riazi called for the four remaining accused council members to step down and demanded that A.S. Elections Committee minutes be made public. The committee did not respond to the incident harshly enough, Riazi said.

“I think it’s an issue that any of the people that were charged were sworn in because it perpetuates a system that undermines democracy,” Riazi said. “Executives are in charge of the party and should be held more accountable for the party’s actions.”

Riazi said executive officers who ran as OPP candidates should be held accountable for the accusations regardless.

“I know that you know exactly what’s going on in your party and if you’re going to run the school, you better know what’s going on in your party,” Riazi said. “I want those people to be held accountable and if any of those executive officers were involved, they should step down or be disqualified.”

However, Weber said he had no knowledge of the alleged actions until after the complaint was filed and cannot answer for the actions of an entire party.

“To my knowledge, executives cannot physically be everywhere at one time,” Weber said. “At the end of the day, people are adults and they make their own decisions.”

Former DPP Off-Campus Representative Tiffany Mayville said allowing the four accused representatives to remain on the council without receiving honoraria is not an appropriate punishment.

“Honoraria is what keeps [council members] accountable,” Mayville said. “If you don’t get honoraria, it’s hard to stay accountable because there is less of a sense of motivation. Where does the incentive come from?”

Vice-Chair of Committee on Committees Kellie Hartl said Elections Committee told her she would have to serve six hours of community service or be forced to resign. However, Hartl said she was not directly involved in OPP campaigning since she holds an appointed, not elected, position.

“The claims that are being made against me are unfair,” Hartl said. “I’ve never run for office; I’m in an appointed position.”

Elections Committee charged Hartl with involvement in the incident through her supposed status as a party liaison to OPP. According to the Article 14 of the A.S. Legal Code, party liaisons are individuals involved with the party who may or may not be candidates. The code requires that these individuals sign a promissory note agreeing that they will not violate A.S. Legal Code or local, state or federal law — a form Hartl said she never signed.

Disqualified OPP Representative-at-Large Kelly Gandee, who garnered the fourth most votes of any 2011-2012 Legislative Council representative, said the Elections Committee has handled the investigation poorly.

“I would like to have seen a more organized form of questioning,” Gandee said. “I felt attacked during the sentencing meeting and I felt like I was being pressured to resign without factual evidence.”

Off-Campus Representative Dariush Banihashemi said during last night’s Legislative council meeting that it is important for A.S. members to act as role models for other students and silence student publications.

“There are many things that haven’t been brought up and this is a bad road to go down,” Banihashemi said. “A.S. council members, it is your duty to set an example around campus and to not give quotes to the Nexus.”