/SGA nixed challenge to election

SGA nixed challenge to election

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Pradyot Sharma

Staff Writer

After the Student Government Association executive runoff elections in March, a formal complaint was filed by one of the candidates but rejected in a private meeting by the SGA executive board.

Zack Anglin, a junior risk management insurance major from Charlottesville, Virginia, and one of the candidates involved in the runoff for director of representation, filed a formal complaint alleging that Taylor Holt, a freshman social science major in the accelerate law program from Huntsville who successfully ran for the position, broke campaign rules on the day of the runoff election.

In his formal complaint, Anglin said that Holt’s campaign violated Rule No. 701.6 of the SGA code of laws, which states: “No food and beverages are allowed in any SGA campaign.”

The formal complaint, which was submitted by Anglin to the SGA executive board that was in office at the time, stated that Holt established her campaign on Wednesday, March 1, across from Phi Mu’s “Founders’ Day” tent, which provided free food and beverages.

Phi Mu is a Greek sorority, of which Holt is a member.

“During election day a video was posted by Taylor Holt to Facebook that showed her using Phi Mu’s PA system through their speakers to promote her platform,” Anglin’s complaint also said.

In the video, which can be found here, Holt is seen using the PA system and saying, “I’m running for director of representation. Please vote for me 8 to 5 in your Troy email. Also, it is Phi Mu’s Founders’ Day. Please stop by to get free lemonade and cookies.”

Former SGA President Olivia Melton, a senior mathematics and economics major from Orange Beach, said that the executive committee met with Barbara Patterson, the director of student involvement who serves as the adviser to the SGA, to discuss the issues Anglin addressed in his letter.

Such meetings generally include the chief justice of the Supreme Court, but considering that Anglin held that office, he was excluded from it.

Melton said that Andrew Dearing, a junior criminal justice major from Montgomery who served as vice president of legislative affairs, was also excluded from the meeting because the executive committee perceived a possible conflict of interest due to Anglin and Dearing being FarmHouse fraternity brothers.

Holt said that Darunda Wilkins, a senior business major from Montgomery and former director of representation, gave Holt permission to move under the Phi Mu tent.

“Wilkins told me I could move my campaign materials under the tent as long as I kept my campaign separate,” Holt said. “I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do, but things were just taken the wrong way.”

Melton confirmed that Holt had asked for Wilkins’ permission, but said Holt was later asked to move out from under the tent.

The letter from Anglin reads, “(The campaign being) across the sidewalk from a large organized event of the caliber of Phi Mu Founders’ Day, there was no clear separation and gave the illusion of one large combined event.”

While there was a proposal during the meeting to hold another election, Melton said that the committee decided that there was not enough to say the action in question influenced the election results.

“The overall circumstances did not warrant a re-election,” Melton said.

According to Melton, Holt was given extra office hours to compensate for violations of the SGA code of laws.

“The exec committee decided that the repercussion was going to be extra office hours’ requirement and training,” Melton said. “We felt as a committee that was fair, as it was only going to help the process for next year by training our new exec members more.

“We eventually decided on a verdict after reviewing the issue and, to the best of my knowledge, both candidates are satisfied with it.”

“I believe that I ran a campaign based on honesty and abiding by the rules,” Anglin said in a written statement. “On the day of the runoff election, I believed rules had been broken and made a formal complaint to the SGA to be presented in front of an appeal board.”

Melton said that she felt there was transparency to everyone involved and that she was willing to answer any questions students would have to ask.

“I think we were very transparent to everyone that was involved in the situation,” Melton said. “We followed the code of laws, explaining the context to everybody, and at the end of the day, everyone felt that it was well off.

“Anyone who had questions was able to come, and we were very open about it and ready to move forward.”

When asked if the formal complaint letter should have been a public document, Melton said that the SGA code of laws did not specify that.

“It doesn’t say it has to be a formal document,” Melton said. “There is no specification saying so.”

When asked if the SGA was working on improving communication with regard to election issues, Melton said its job was to ensure the candidates got a fair election.

“If the candidates feel we followed the code of laws and handled that the right way… the candidates may not want that (information) out there.”

Melton said that the SGA was working on getting more information to candidates on broader, everyday issues.

“The new exec is working really hard to focus on communication, and I think they are planning to send out minutes (of the SGA meetings) every week and all the events that are going on,” Melton said.

For the Trop’s perspective on the issue, see the opinion section.