EMU sued over presidential election results

Student Government continues with business as usual while they wait for a new President and Vice President.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee filed a lawsuit on behalf of six plaintiffs, including write-in presidential candidate Fatma Jaber and Eastern Michigan University students, against EMU and Vice President for Government and Community Relations Leigh Greden Sunday morning in Washtenaw County Court. The lawsuit alleges that the results of the 2014 Student Government Presidential election were racially motived and Jaber, not Desmond Miller, should be named President of EMU Student Government.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

“There were no complaints brought to the election commission, alleging bias by any of the Election Commissioners … during the process,” Greden said.

According to the lawsuit, Jaber is seeking monetary damages from EMU, in addition to being named the winner of the Presidential Election.

“We have not been formally served with the lawsuit and have not retained outside council,” said Geoff Larcom, executive director of media relations at EMU.

Jaber was disqualified from the 2014 Presidential Election for breaking campaign sanctions placed on her by the Student Government Election Commission and by EMU Provost Kim Schatzel. Jaber appealed the Election Commission’s decision to disqualify her from the election to Schatzel, who ruled against Jaber’s appeal on Thursday.

A copy of Schatzel’s ruling can be found here.

“It is important to note that at all times during this election we followed University and student governance bylaws and processes,” Larcom said on behalf of the university and Greden.

The lawsuit does not address Jaber’s disqualification from the election because of campaign violations, only the disputed tally of votes cast.

The official vote tally in the election was 1,174 votes for the Miller/Cole ticket and 85 votes for the Jaber/VanWashenova ticket before Jaber’s disqualification. After Jaber’s disqualification, the official vote count was 1,174-0. However, disputed votes in the election put the Jaber/VanWashenova ticket tally over 1,289.

Even if a U.S. Court orders the disputed votes to be counted in the election, the Jaber/VanWashenova ticket would still be disqualified from the election due to breaking campaign sanctions.

The Eastern Echo was unable to reach the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s attorney, Fatina Abdrabboh, who filed the complaint for comment.

“Student Government is an important part of the University,” Greden said. “We work with every member of Student Government regardless of who they are. They are a student driven organization and it’s simply not true to allege the University has a preference of any candidate over any other candidate.”

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