Students filled the A.S. Senate meeting on Wednesday amid allegations of bribery made against the Inter-Fraternity Council
After the Associated Students Elections Board called for a “re-vote” of the entire Spring Election ballot on Tuesday, pointing to alleged bribery by the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC), a packed room of students at Wednesday’s A.S. Senate meeting presented contrasting opinions.
In an “unsolicited letter” from the IFC president, the board said it found information that the IFC gave “monetary incentives” to students who voted in the Spring Elections by awarding philanthropy grants to chapters that received high voter turnout. The board released a statement regarding the allegations on Tuesday morning.
Brendan Gonzalez, IFC president, submitted a letter to the Nexus Wednesday in which he said that the IFC consulted with the Office of Student Life prior to developing the grant program. In the letter, Gonzalez said, “The IFC has been unequivocally transparent about these grants,” and said he received information from administration that “many other UCSB campus organizations have used similar programs.”
“We made this clear … this grant was not based on who you vote for,” Gonzalez said on Wednesday evening. “I encourage people to look at both sides.”
As of Wednesday’s Senate meeting, the Elections Board is still recommending that all executive and Senate positions, fee initiatives, fee reaffirmations, constitutional amendments and Campus Elections Committee initiatives once again go through the voting process, potentially modifying the results of last week’s election.
According to Kimia Hashemian, A.S. internal vice president and fourth-year sociology major, the senate does not currently have the power to call for a “re-vote.” If they choose to pass such an amendment, the senate would have to draft a new policy within a week to create guidelines for future use.
“I personally don’t see that the constitution has been broken. It does say in the constitution that all students have the right to vote in the election,” Hashemian said. “There is no precedent to this, and there’s no policy at all; in a sense it could be argued that it comes down to whatever the senate decides.”
However, Hashemian said students could separately present the issue to A.S. Judicial Affairs and the A.S. Elections Committee. If a student petition were to be created, Hashemian said the Elections Board would have “full jurisdiction” in taking further action.
Miles Ashlock, assistant dean and director of the Office of Student Life, received a copy of the letter Gonzalez sent to the Elections Board.
“Personally, if I thought that what they were discussing were a bribe, that’s something I would have intervened upon,” Ashlock said on Wednesday.
During a Senate meeting on Wednesday evening, Avery Chamberlain, chair of Elections Board, said the IFC’s plans were unethical, because they created measures to hold students accountable for submitting votes.
“These frats were asking people to bring their voter receipts … everyone’s vote should be anonymous,” Chamberlain said.
Speaking to the senate on Wednesday, Joseline Garcia, current A.S. student advocate general, said the governing body was not in a position to make further decisions about the allegations.
“I don’t think Senate should be the one making this decision right now,” Garcia said. “I don’t think Senate can be unbiased right now.”
The A.S. Elections Board believes the alleged bribery “skewed the results” of the A.S. elections and demonstrated that “members of the IFC decided that certain votes meant more than others.”
“UCSB consists of over 900 organizations, and not every organization has access to such funding to offer incentives to their members,” the board’s initial document states. “IFC’s actions posed a threat to the conduct of fair elections and if no action is taken in regards to this situation, it would be perpetuating the belief that votes can be bought and sold.”
University News Editor Maura Fox contributed reporting.
A version of this story appeared on p. 1 of the Thursday, April 28, 2016 print edition of the Daily Nexus.