As the final two days of the Associated Students (A.S.) online election approach, the two major parties running for student government seats are accusing each other of foul play – such as tearing down opponents’ signs or posters or having public verbal confrontations with opposition members.
In a meeting between representatives from Student Action Coalition (SAC) and Students’ Party (SP) and A.S. administrators, Justin Pabian (SP) and Bill Shiebler (SAC) drafted a contract outlining what is considered ethical during the election. But Chaz Whatley (SP), who is running for A.S. president, said her party refused to sign the contract because SP does not trust SAC to abide by the rules. She said both parties had met prior to the start of campaign, where a verbal agreement was made to not participate in public slander or destruction of each other’s signage.
“As soon as the declaration of candidacy came, they went back on their word,” Whatley said. “They blatantly disrespected the rules of the [verbal agreement].”
However, Bill Shiebler, who is vying for the presidential seat, said SP’s claims are hypocritical because Felicia Cruz, SP external vice president of statewide affairs candidate, first broke the verbal pact when she allegedly harassed SAC members who were tabling in the Arbor.
“Myself, as well as the other executive [candidates] of SAC, want to have a cordial remainder of the election, and it’s very upsetting that they’re saying we broke the agreement when they broke the agreement first,” he said.
Shiebler said the alleged incident with Cruz did not prompt SAC to take any negative actions toward the opposing party.
“I kept telling everyone running with us to run a positive campaign and not trash [SP],” he said. “We have enough positive achievements that we don’t need to do that.”
The contract drafted by representatives of the two parties Tuesday states, “In the interest of maintaining a positive image for Associated Students, and the students and candidates involved with the organization, this contract acknowledges that there has been problems in the past and we the undersigned hope to resolve these issues in the future.”
The terms of the contract include no mudslinging between candidates and parties, no removal of the opposition’s signs or propaganda, no verbal accusations or confrontations in public places, and respective behavior toward all candidates and party members. Both sides will also abide by A.S. election rules and procedures, according to the contract.
Pabian said that at the meeting, he and Shiebler talked about Students’ Party’s complaints against members of SAC. Pabian alleged that SAC used A.S. computers and paper to print its fliers, and he said some SAC members tore down Students’ Party’s signs and posters.
“I feel because we already had this meeting [previously] and [the rules] were obviously not abided by -how can we trust them when we put our trust in them before and they blew it?” he said.
Shiebler denied any members of his party used A.S. equipment – which would be against the A.S. election code – to produce campaign flyers or posters.
Joanna Thomas (SAC), who is running for internal vice president, said she did not witness any destruction of SP’s signs, and no one can be sure who was responsible for what damage.
“I know that there have been a lot of damage to signs on both sides,” she said. “But both parties have been struggling with the issue. There are thousands of students on campus so it’s hard to pinpoint the problem.”
Late Tuesday night, nearly a dozen members of SAC and half a dozen members of SP confronted each other inside the A.S. administration building, each levying further allegations of misconduct upon one another. SP members alleged some SAC candidates were using the building’s computers to produce election material, a claim that members of SAC denied, saying they were working on material related to the A.S. Student Lobby.
The Nexus could not independently confirm either party’s claims early Tuesday morning.