March 9, 2001

Candidates Challenge Election Campaigning

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The preliminary results are in for the Student Assembly (S.A.), University Assembly and class officer elections.

The winner of the Student-elected Trustee seat, however, remains unknown. The trustee results have been held until the Trustee Nominating Committee makes a decision on a challenge to the campaign.

The challenge was submitted by Jennifer Fang ’03, archivist for the S.A., and co-signed by trustee candidates Emanuel Tsourounis II ’00, JD ’03 and Evan Lupion ’03, as well as S.A. candidates Cecilia Dobbs ’02, Marc Waase ’02, Ray Beninato ’03, Courtney Tawresey ’03 and Ryan M. Horn ’02.

The challenge, which was written before election results were announced, contends that some candidates participated in unfair campaigning and misused funds from the Student Assembly Finance Committee (SAFC).

“The most crucial [issue] for discussion … is the possibility of extra funds being diverted from the SAFC to publish and distribute campaign material for certain candidates,” the challenge stated.

“What we had asked was for the Trustee Nominating Committee to consider expenses of candidates,” Tsourounis said.

The challenge contends that Turn Left and the Cornell Observer, both of which are published with funds from the SAFC, “published an issue within the first several days of campaign week, and both dedicated their content to the election week. … Both Turn Left and the Cornell Observer are directly violating SAFC regulations by endorsing the Student Assembly and Trustee candidates, which are by definition public offices,” according to the challenge.

“The newspapers benefited candidates directly and indirectly by [whose] pictures were included and which candidates they chose to endorse,” Tsourounis said.

Campaign rules state that each trustee candidate is allowed to spend $100 on campaign materials. Each page of a publication used as campaign materials counts as three cents that must be deducted from the individual’s campaign budget. Due to the endorsements in the papers and the fact that they were handed out on Ho Plaza during elections, Fang said, the newspapers constitute elections materials.

Fang contended that trustee candidate Leslie Barkemeyer ’03 violated the rules, because she was endorsed by both newspapers and campaigners told people to vote for her when handing out the papers.

“If both Turn Left and The Observer were handed out as campaign materials, they have to be claimed in the fullest in Leslie’s [campaign budget],” Fang said. Due to the number of papers distributed, there is “no way she could have stayed within her budget, which is $100,” she added.

Barkemeyer did not feel she had violated the campaign rules.

“I can understand them wanting to run a clean campaign, which I did,” Barkemeyer said.

Fang and the co-signers also submitted a similar challenge about campaigning during the S.A. elections.

The Elections Committee will make a decision regarding the S.A. challenges by next Thursday, Mahon said. Although the challenges were submitted 45 minutes late, Mahon added, “I think it’s important for the Elections Committee to address the issue … instead of sticking to arbitrary and draconian deadlines.”

In the S.A. election, the Cornell Democrats had almost a clean sweep, as 17 out of 19 candidates elected were endorsed by the organization. P.K. Agarwalla ’04 for international liaison and Abeezer Tapia ’02 for engineering representative were the only two candidates to win seats without support from the Cornell Democrats.

“It shows what teamwork can do,” said Uzo Asonye ’02, current S.A. president and winner of an undesignated at-large seat, about candidates running on the same platform.

“But that doesn’t mean an independent candidate can’t win,” he said.


Archived article by Heather Schroeder