Herrington challenges results of election

By Lisa Crawford

December 4, 2007

Student Government Association presidential candidate Luke Herrington has appealed to the Student Court over alleged campaign violations after his grievance to the SGA Election Commission was denied Nov. 26. On Nov. 13, Herrington and running mate Emily Feger filed a formal grievance to the Election Commission claiming Harold Callaway and his supporters illegally canvassed Vaselakos Hall in an effort to gain votes in the election. The grievance was later addressed by the Commission the Tuesday following the elections, which Callaway and running mate Jennifer Kohler won by 83 votes. According to Election Commissioner Katy Schwartz, “No violation of any of the Student Government election rules was made.” Herrington said the grievance was filed because the activities performed by Callaway were in direct violation of the Student Handbook.  Herrington believed the Commission should have voided the results of the Nov. 14-15 election and should hold a second election.  When Callaway and his supporters attempted to distribute election information in the residence halls, Herrington said they violated the policy regarding solicitation in the residence halls.  The policy states: “Official registered campus organizations wishing to canvass door-to-door must request this at least 7 days in advance to Residence Council. Canvassing for sales/profit is prohibited. If approved the organization must contact the front desk in the area in which they wish to canvass.” Callaway argued that that while he and his supporters did talk to students in Vaselakos Hall about the SGA elections, he said he felt he did not directly violate the policy because he was not an “official registered campus organization.”  Also, Callaway said since he was not selling anything for profit, he was also not in direct violation of the solicitation policy. Herrington said he and Feger would have dropped the complaints if they were allowed to canvass the residence halls on Wednesday Nov. 14, to have the same opportunity already taken by their opponents.  Cindy Heider, interim assistant provost and vice president of academic and student affairs and faculty advisor for the SGA, said that after contacting Michael Speros, the director of residential life, the distribution of materials was stopped and the items removed. Herrington said in an e-mail to Heider, “It is entirely unfair, that we followed the rules and policies, and did not have an opportunity to talk to any residents, while our opponents disobeyed the policies, and talked to those residents.”  Herrington then continued to ask for something to be done, “to either punish the students responsible, or to allow us an opportunity to equal the playing field.” After the election, student G-numbers were pulled to tally exactly how many students in Vaselakos voted each candidate.  Fewer than fifty people voted for Callaway and Kohler but Herrington believes this is irrelevant. “Living in the residence halls is an incubator of student involvement/awareness,” Herrington said. “It would only take 42 students in V-Hall to influence the election since each one could have easily reminded on friend to vote.” The Election Commission was composed of the Election Commissioner Schwartz, Katrina Trammell, Amanda Williams, Armande Willis and Tyson Malone.  It is the Election Commissioners duty to choose an even number with at least four members of the student body to serve on the Commission.  Herrington and Feger raised concerns about the make-up of the Commission due to the fact that Schwartz and Trammell were both members of Alpha Sigma Alpha, the same sorority as Kohler.  Feger said all concerns addressed to administration were deemed invalid and she was told they were not allowed any changes. After the grievance filed was found not to be in violation of election rules, Commission member Williams said if Herrington and Feger still felt there were violations of the Student Handbook, they would need to speak with administration and the dean of student development. Herrington and Feger have filed an appeal of the Election Commission’s decision to the Student Court.  The Court will hold a hearing Thursday, Dec. 6.