Tuesday, April 5, 2011

FACE the charges: SGA political party accused of improper campaigning for second year in a row

By Chelsea Boozer
The Daily Helmsman

Photo by Brian Wilson, The Daily Helmsman

Student Government Association presidential candidate Hunter Lang campaigns in the UC on Wednesday in an attempt to secure potential votes from still-undecided — or uninterested — students

Presidential candidate Tyler DeWitt filed the first infraction of this year's Student Government Association election early Wednesday morning, citing the improper posting of flyers by the Finding Answers Concerning Everyone party.
FACE party campaign materials were posted on doors, windows and trash cans and covered at least two yard signs, promoting the Writing on the Wall Project, which belonged to the Student Activities Council — all placements that violate University policy.
SGA Election Commissioner Anthony LaRocca noticed the improperly placed signs Monday night around 10:30 p.m. He then called the FACE party's presidential candidate and current SGA president, Hunter Lang, and ordered him to have the signs removed by 1 a.m.
Strolling the campus around 1:30 a.m., LaRocca said he noticed a significant number of the signs still posted in the illegal locations, proceeded to take photos as evidence and removed posters that covered SAC's signs.
DeWitt filed the infraction against the FACE party around 3 a.m. Wednesday.
LaRocca said he scheduled court hearings for this week more than a month ago, in case a grievance were filed.
The court hearing was scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, but LaRocca said SGA Chief Justice Joshua Jackson told him that Dwayne Scott, associate dean of Student Judicial Affairs, "canceled the meeting because associate justice selection is more important (and is taking place Wednesday) afternoon."
"This is something I set up a month ago, and I asked for him to have the court meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," LaRocca said. "He said the court was going to meet, and four hours beforehand he told me the meeting was canceled. (The election commission is) waiting for the hearing to get rescheduled. They had a prior commitment. Hopefully we will get a hearing so the facts will come out."
LaRocca said last year's election's grievances could not be heard before the election ended and were ultimately dropped, since they would have no effect on the election, and he did not want that to happen this year. Infractions were also filed against the FACE party last year for placing flyers on doors, windows and the hoods of vehicles, all against University policy.
According to SGA's election laws, the student court is responsible for scheduling a hearing within three days of receiving the charges.
However, LaRocca said Jackson told him that the student court "thought it was best to wait until all grievances are filed after the election and hear them together."
When the hearing takes place, the election commission will present a statement, show the evidence and make a recommendation for punishment. Potential punishments are a reprimand, a monetary fine of $25 or $75, or disqualification from taking office.
LaRocca said there likely will be no disqualification, since he has no proof who posted the signs.
"I was happy that Hunter (Lang) took down most of the posters — or his party did — but by 1:30 a.m., there were still some (improperly displayed)," LaRocca said. "There is at least grounds for the hearing. It is not my job to place judgment. I just make recommendations and give evidence."
DeWitt said he filed the grievance because he and Lang had previously met with SGA's advisor, Dean of Students Stephen Petersen, and LaRocca to discuss the election laws. He said they were told several times how to place campaign materials properly. They were also informed of University policy on the matter, DeWitt said.
When he came to campus Tuesday morning and saw more flyers illegally posted outside two of the engineering buildings, he decided to move forward with filing the infraction, he said.
Lang said he received permission from the dean of the Herff College of Engineering to post the flyers in the building and said he did not post some of the materials deemed improperly placed.

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