Two sets of potential SGA presidential candidates will face charges of campaign violations o…
Those following the news of the Student Government’s violation notices to the Zaleski and Martin campaigns and the censorship request to this paper must feel the same irritation and exhaustion as Martin, Zaleski and their campaigns feel.
The elections code restricts active campaigning to one week a year because nobody wants an arms race between the tickets to campaign earlier and earlier. This would be damaging to the candidate’s academic records and beyond irritating to everyone else. But the elections committee has been so hyper-legalistic with the code that it has triggered these feelings itself and discredited the process.
It demands that candidates clear any publicity they do with an Administration official – an unenforceable and arbitrary demand that is inherently contradictory to a free and fair election. And elections officials proved their petulant streak when they requested this newspaper remove its story from social media, making it official that the election committee believes the readership of the DA must be protected from knowledge about the election. And in the process, it instigated a far bigger mess, and publicity for the candidates, than the original benign interview.
As a former SGA presidential candidate, I believe it would be wrong to comply with this demand and one should never ask administrative permission to speak out.
However, I also believe the elections committee has proven it is far from impartial. It is almost entirely comprised of administrative officials and partisans with entrenched biases. As it happens, on the day the committee submitted its violation notices, Zaleski received confirmation from President Isaac Obioma that he had neglected to submit a goals and issues statement in the first month of his administration, and dubiously claimed a press release in October constituted his midterm report. Submitting a goals and issues statement is an explicit constitutional requirement for the SGA executive branch.
I don’t think any student actually cares about the statement itself. But the fact the Administration forgot about it demonstrates that nobody in the administration actually read their own constitution – or at least never bothered to mention they should release a statement that is explicitly detailed in Article 4.2.1 ss K. Vice President, Chief of Operations Officer, Intern Coordinator, Attorney General, and Deputy Legislative Affairs Director all obviously neglected to read the Constitution - but now have the audacity to throw the elections book at everybody else. I find it troubling that the executive branch only follows the constitution when it does not apply to them.
I don’t know what Zaleski’s or Martin’s opinion is, but I urge them to not treat the committee as an impartial board until changes are made. I believe it is clear that neither Zaleski or Martin are guilty for soliciting votes or support in their DA interview; the only thing they are guilty of is having an opinion.
Michael Quinlan is a senior political science student from St. Albans, West Virginia. He ran for SGA president in 2018.