The Desmond Miller/Steven Cole ticket was named the winner of the 2014 Eastern Michigan University Student Government Presidential election on Saturday. The write-in ticket of Fatma Jaber/Chris VanWashenova was disqualified for multiple campaign violations, according to a report issued by student government Election Commission Chair Nto Mbeng Agbor.
Incumbent and winner of the 2014 Student Government Presidential Election, Desmond Miller said he was happy to represent the student body for another year.
“Steven and I are overwhelmed with gratitude and honored that we were elected as Student Body President and Vice President,” Miller said. “I am excited to have the opportunity to continue the work that I have done for the past two years. I am also excited to work with my good friend and student advocate, Steven Cole. He will be an exceptional Student Body Vice President and teammate”
The report released by Agbor states the results of the commission’s proceedings. However, sources inside student government have leaked the full 77-page report detailing the investigation process and providing the evidence of Jaber’s campaign violations to The Eastern Echo. Both reports can be found on here and here.
The Election Report states that Jaber’s campaign violated university policy and Student Government election rules on Wednesday, March 26, by approaching people and handing out campaign literature instead of remaining behind a reserved table in the Student Center.
According to the Election Report, Jaber and VanWashenova signed an affidavit promising to adhere to Student Government bylaws and University Policy before beginning their campaign.
Jaber received warnings to adhere to Student Center policy via text message from Leigh Greden, faculty advisor to Student Government and member of the Election Commission. Four hours after these warnings, Jaber and her staff continued to violate Student Center policy, according to the Election Report.
Greden observed Jaber and her campaign staff committing the alleged infractions after being warned by accessing video footage from EMU’s Department of Public Safety.
Jaber claimed an associate of hers, whom she refused to name, received permission from an unknown administrator in the Student Center to leave the table and solicit votes, according to the Election Report.
After these incidents, the Election Commission banned Jaber from “active campaigning” for the remainder of the election at 11:37 p.m. on March 26. This ban included using printed materials, e-mail, texts, websites and social media.
Greden spoke to Jaber at 7:39 a.m. on March 27 to clarify the sanctions. Greden told Jaber she was not allowed to actively campaign for the remainder of the election and encouraged her to appeal this sanction to Provost Kim Schatzel if she disagreed.
Around 9:30 a.m. on March 27, Jaber appealed the Election Commission’s decision to Schatzel. After Jaber sent the appeal, Greden warned her via text message that the Election Commission’s original sanctions would be in place until the conclusion of the appeal process. Jaber acknowledged that she understood the sanctions were still in place.
Provost Kim Schatzel modified the Election Commission’s sanctions per Jaber’s appeal. These modified sanctions went into effect on March 27 around 1:30 p.m.
Schatzel said via email 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.
Schatzel also said in her email that if Jaber or her supporters committed any further violations, including violating the modified sanctions, the likely sanction would be to disqualify her and her running mate from the ballot and from serving as President.
Jaber faced three more allegations of campaign violations after both the Election Commission’s sanction and the Provost’s sanctions were in place.
Porter Building campaigning
Jaber was accused of approaching students in Porter with a laptop and telling them to vote for her as a write-in candidate. This incident occurred before Schatzel’s reduced sanctions on Jaber’s campaign. The Election Commission was provided with photos, videos and testimony from a student regarding the incident.
On April 10, Jaber confirmed she was the individual in the photos and video, however, Jaber denied accessing websites on her laptop or helping students vote for her. Jaber said she had never met the student before. She said she might have been helping the student with class work.
The Election Commission determined Jaber violated the sanction against active campaigning by encouraging and helping students vote on her laptop in the Porter Building.
A student complained via email about Jaber approaching students in Pray-Harrold with a laptop and telling them to vote for her as a write-in candidate around 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 27. In these incidents, Jaber was also accused of pressuring voters to vote for her.
Jaber denied being in Pray-Harrold at the time of this incident. She stated no one from her campaign was in Pray-Harrold at that time. Later, Jaber admitted that other people working for her campaign were carrying laptops encouraging people to vote for her and were in Pray-Harrold at various times on Thursday.
The Election Commission could not find sufficient evidence to prove that Jaber had violated the sanction against active campaigning in this incident.
Jaber provided text messages that proved she was in Porter Building at the time of this reported incident.
After receiving student complaints, Jaber was accused of approaching students with a laptop, offering candy to students if they agreed to vote for her between 5:00 p.m. and 5:50 p.m. on March 27. Jaber was also accused of sliding the laptop away from one student, typing in her name and hitting submit for the student.
Jaber admitted to turning the laptop towards herself and typing her name for students voting on a laptop, but denied ever submitting votes herself.
The Election Commission determined Jaber’s version of events lacked credibility given the student’s statement. The Election Commission concluded that Jaber was guilty of violating Schatzel’s sanctions by casting votes for other students on her laptop.
After careful review of the evidence provided during the investigation, the Election Commission disqualified the Jaber/VanWashenova ticket under Section 6.4 of the Student Government bylaws.
Jaber has the option of appealing the Election Commission’s results under Section 8.4 of the bylaws.
“This is an ongoing matter,” Jaber said. “We have sent in an appeal on two matters. I cannot comment further at this time.”
Jaber will appeal her disqualification from the election and the way votes for a ticket are identified on a write-in ballot.
The appeal will be sent to the Provost Kim Schatzel. Schatzel could decide to hear and decide the dispute herself, or appoint two designees to hear and decide the dispute. One of the designees must be a student.
The Election Commission did not investigate Jaber’s Senatorial campaign. Out of the 24 Senatorial candidates, she received the most votes. Under Chapter 8 of the Student Government bylaws, the Student Senate may decide if further action against Jaber’s Senatorial seat is necessary.
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