Our View: Nothing has changed

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Our View: Nothing has changed

CW / Kylie Cowden

CW Editorial Board

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This year’s SGA presidential election was one for the books. From one candidate running for an unprecedented second term to another campaign seemingly mired in unending elections violations, the story never ended. But the latter is what I would like to address today. In response to Senator Mike Smith’s article, arguing for Jared Hunter’s disqualification, his campaign team and I would like to offer much-needed clarification. In our view, Jared Hunter should not and 
will not be disqualified.

Smith claims that Jared Hunter, SGA President-Elect, deserves disqualification on the grounds that he failed to follow through on punishments of community service hours outlined by the SGA Elections Board in response to major and intermediate violations. Smith also claims that Hunter should be disqualified because he accepted the endorsement of The Machine, supposedly resulting in another violation. We wholeheartedly believe that disqualification would be an insult to the over 54 percent of students who voted for Jared, as well as a continuation of the bias against our candidate and team during the election season.

Throughout the two weeks of campaigning, we dealt with what felt like hundreds of emails notifying us of possible violations. Overall, 10 violations were examined and ruled on by the Elections Board against our campaign (the majority we were not found guilty of). The number of emails we received from the Elections Board, some totally frivolous, combined with the many times our team was called to appear before them was unlike any the University has seen before, similar to the sanctions they put on our campaign. In our opinion, the extremely harsh sanctions, particularly the campaign blackout period of six days in which our team was responsible for the actions of anyone organizationally-affiliated with Hunter (over 3,000 students at the Capstone), shows the obvious bias the Board had against our campaign. Many people we counseled with at the University even said these kinds of sanctions were unprecedented and unfounded based 
on the supposed violations.

Smith’s assertion that Hunter failed to meet the punishment guidelines for our elections violations is completely baseless. Hunter made it clear that the punishment of 10 hours of community service before the Monday of election week was quite literally impossible to accomplish, considering our team was in the process of campaigning, attending classes, writing and filing appeals and meeting with on-campus groups and administrators. Additionally, the majority of community service providers Hunter contacted are closed on the weekends, making it impossible to complete any hours. As of right now, Hunter finished those 10 hours the Friday before Spring Break and is completing the remaining hours with the Environmental Services Team and the West Alabama Food Bank, as mandated by the Elections Board.

To be clear, we are in no way arguing that the violations should be retroactively removed. We accept the consequences and dealt with the SGA Judicial Board, the office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Student Conduct. None of these entities suggested that Jared should be disqualified. Your president-elect is already meeting with administrators and students about initiatives that every student can get behind. He set up meetings with administrators about a new mobile ordering application for students at on-campus dining locations. Furthermore, he led meetings with Panhellenic, IFC and NPHC to start a trust fund for the Counseling Center in hopes of raising money to support our mental health services and care on campus. Finally, as promised in his campaign platform, Jared is currently working with administrators on developing the UASK app, partnering with Men Can Stop Rape and Beth Howard, the Title IX coordinator, to make your 
campus safer.

To all of the students who voted for Hunter, as well as those who didn’t vote for him: He is working to build a university that everyone—no matter what corner of campus you come from—will benefit from, feel safe on and grow with. Disqualifying him would take away all these accomplishments that we have worked so hard for and would accomplish nothing positive for the Student Government Association or you as the student body.

Our View is consensus of The Crimson White Editorial Board.