USAC endorsement process questioned as student groups file complaints about Bruins United
May 11, 2012 2:50 a.m.
Loopholes in the undergraduate student government election code, revealed in the course of elections week, have raised serious questions about the student group endorsements process and caused a top member of the Bruins United campaign to step down from his position.
Complaints emerged this week about Bruins United members representing student groups at endorsement hearings without authorization. Officials have since acknowledged flaws in how endorsements were conducted in recent years.
The first issue arose on Monday, when a representative from Theta Xi fraternity said its endorsement in the Daily Bruin advertisement was inaccurate: The fraternity was listed as endorsing Bruins United candidate Sahil Seth instead of independent candidate Taylor Bazley, a member of Theta Xi.
Representatives of the fraternity and Bruins United later characterized the incident as a miscommunication.
On Wednesday, student groups UCLA Circle K and Moneythink UCLA filed official complaints with the Election Board about misrepresentation.
These incidents, and a lack of response from Bruins United, led Chris Flores, slate co-chair, to resign.
Flores, a member of Bruins United for four years, said he felt disheartened by the incidents of the slate misrepresenting student groups’ endorsements to the Election Board and by the slate’s lack of response to initial complaints from student groups at the beginning of the week about these misrepresentations,
In a statement submitted to the Daily Bruin announcing his decision to step down, Flores said there were loopholes in the endorsement process.
No one should be able to take advantage of those loopholes, he added.
“I was sad that these incidents happened, and I personally couldn’t continue to be a part of it,” said Flores, a fifth-year political science student.
Since the complaints against Bruins United were made public, election officials promised a review of the election code.
A lack of oversight by the Election Board, coupled with shaky systems for verification in the endorsement process and the decentralized nature of the Bruins United slate, have contributed to the problems, election and slate officials said.
Eena Singh, chair of the Undergraduate Students Association Council Election Board and a third-year anthropology student, said she recognizes there are flaws in the election code. But she attributed the issue to Bruins United and the student groups involved in the incidents.
Singh said the Election Board is taking steps to ensure that those involved in endorsing the student groups without authorization are held accountable for their actions, but no one besides Flores has come forward.
She said Flores is one of the few students in the election process who has shown accountability.
“I’m very proud that people in the university still have enough integrity to say things that are hard to say,” Singh said. “I appreciate the courage that Chris has to do this, and I hope other people hold themselves accountable.”
Flores said he is planning to work with students and administrators to change the election code so similar incidents do not happen in the future.
David Bocarsly, a member of Bruins United who was elected president Thursday night, said in a statement to the student body Thursday night that members of the slate are extremely regretful of how the situation was handled.
Miscommunications between student groups and Bruins United representatives who contacted them about the endorsement process were the source of the problems, Bocarsly said.
Slate structure was also a contributing factor, he said.
“There is a lack of a centralized structure (in Bruins United) because we aren’t a party that meets consistently year-round,” Bocarsly said. “Because of that, it leads to miscommunications.”
The slate has already began reaching out to the groups they misrepresented in the endorsement process to apologize and to try to mend their relationship, Bocarsly said.