A source close to the investigation of the Student Government Presidential election leaked detailed information regarding campaign improprieties committed by write-in candidate Fatma Jaber.
Jaber is accused of multiple campaign violations. Allegedly, there was a report of a campaign violation by her opponent and incumbent, Desmond Miller. The allegations against Miller have been cleared, according to a source close to the election investigation.
It was reported that Jaber violated university policies regarding campaigning in the Student Center by approaching people and handing out her campaign literature instead of remaining behind a reserved table.
In an email documenting text messages between Vice President of Government and Community Relations Leigh Greden and Jaber, Greden cites specific text messages where he warned Jaber about on-going campaign violations.
“At 12:24 p.m., I texted Fatma and wrote ‘no passing lit in the student center unless you’re at a rented table. That’s a violation of student center policy,’” Greden said in an email addressed to the Election Commission.
After Jaber was informed that this information had been leaked, she agreed to respond to the uncovered evidence.
According to an employee at the Student Center, in order to pass out literature, people must have a reserved table and solicitors may not approach other people.
Jaber said that she did not initially understand the specifics of this rule, and began her campaigning by walking up to people near her reserved table.
Jaber denied the allegations that she continued to violate campaign policy, stating that she stopped actively engaging people walking by her table after she was warned.
According to Greden’s email, video footage from EMU Department of Public Safety shows Jaber’s campaign staff disregarding his warnings against breaking a campaign rule established in Chapter 6, Section 3 of the Constitution of the EMU Student Government.
When asked about this specific allegation Jaber declined to comment.
After receiving Greden’s email regarding the violations, the Student Government Election Commission met to rule on the matter and decided to place campaign sanctions on Jaber for the remainder of the election.
Jaber appealed those sanctions to Provost Kim Schatzel.
“I reviewed your request and the circumstances leading up to the Election Commission’s sanction,” Schatzel said in an email to Jaber. “The violation is serious but I have decided to modify the sanction as follows pursuant to Section 8.4 of the Student Government Bylaws.”
Schatzel said the sanctions placed on Jaber would be reduced to:
1. No active campaigning (as defined in the Student Government Bylaws) is allowed anywhere inside the Student Center or Halle Library.
2. No campaign literature may be distributed anywhere on campus.
3. While engaging in approved campaigning, you, your running mate, and your supporters may have laptop computers at an approved table and may invite students to vote on the laptop computers, but the laptop computers must remain on the approved table(s). You may also encourage students to vote on their (or University) laptop computers. But you, your running mate, and your supporters may not approach students with a computer in your possession anywhere on campus.
After the polls closed at 9:00 p.m. on March 27, other students made additional allegations of campaign malfeasance against Jaber. If these allegations were found to be true, they would disqualify her candidacy.
“If you, your running mate, or your supporters commit further violations of the rules – including the sanctions outlined above – the likely sanction will be to disqualify you from the ballot and from serving as President,” Schatzel said in her email to Jaber.
Jaber declined the first attempt to meet with the Election Commission on March 31 because she would be in class at the requested meeting time.
Jaber was advised by Director of Student Judicial Services Jesus Hernandez and LGBTRC program coordinator Mary Larkin to secure an advocate for the Election Commission’s hearings. The advocate she chose to represent her was Eric Ward, the Coordinator of Health Education at EMU. Ward is one of Jaber’s academic advisors.
The second election commission hearing Jaber was invited to was scheduled for April 7. Jaber also declined to attend this meeting.
“I got the list of allegations on April 6,” Jaber said. “I didn’t get any supporting evidence so I informed them that I will not be able to attend because I haven’t received all of the information I was supposed to get.”
Jaber said she was denied the right to know who accused her of committing the additional allegations by the Election Commission and was not given the opportunity to question them.
Jaber met with the Election Commission on April 10 and disputed all allegations of campaign malfeasance.
“Today, we had a meeting at 9:30 a.m. I was able to refute the allegations and the supporting evidence,” Jaber said. “From my end, the meeting went very well.”
Miller said he was not sure if he could represent the student body by winning on a technicality.
“I definitely do think that if students voted for Fatma, they voted for Fatma for a reason,” Miller said.
Up-to-date coverage of the Election Commission’s investigations will be posted on easternecho.com as more information becomes available.
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