Monday, May 25

Editorial: USAC Election Board must disqualify Social Justice Referendum

The editorial board is composed of multiple Daily Bruin staff members and is dedicated to publishing informed opinions on issues relevant to students. The board serves as the official voice of the paper and is separate from the newsroom.

Editor’s note: The referenda on the USAC ballot did not directly compete with one another, but in the interest of full transparency, we believe it is worth noting one of the referenda on this year’s ballot directly benefitted the Daily Bruin financially.

The USAC Election Board must retroactively disqualify the Social Justice Referendum for incurring yet another violation in the hours leading up to the election result.

The most recent violation was the latest in a week full of them, and the election board’s weak enforcement of the rules has enabled the campaign to operate with near impunity.

And while the votes may be in, the job of the election board does not end with the election. Until the board sends the results to USAC on Tuesday for approval, it is well within its power to declare the passage of the referendum illegitimate.

Election board Chair Lindsay Allen told The Bruin on Thursday that additional violations by the Social Justice Referendum would result in either a ban on online campaigning or disqualification, depending on their severity. This came after the board ruled that the referendum could not campaign on campus from 3 p.m. on Thursday until voting ended at 3 p.m. on Friday.

Yet Friday afternoon, the Westwood Village Entertainment Group performed on Bruin Walk imploring students to “Vote yes for SJR.” The band’s CEO and founder Munir Griffin said a referendum representative solicited the performance. Even though the band wasn’t told to endorse the referendum explicitly, many performers wore Social Justice Referendum shirts and the performance was clearly in violation of the sanction.

After the results, Allen told The Bruin that the board received a violation form just before 4:30 p.m. Friday about the referendum campaigning through the Westwood Village Entertainment Group.

However, after consulting with adviser Kris Kaupalolo about the violation form, Allen said the board decided to not consider the sanction because it was “too late,” even though there are no hard rules indicating that it is, in fact, too late.

It’s true that a retroactive ruling is unprecedented in recent years. However, violation forms can be filed up to 24 hours after said violation occurs.

Despite the violation form being submitted an hour and a half past the end of the voting period, a form submitted in this time frame should be considered. Students can only be expected to submit forms so quickly. If a campaign is doing something in violation of the guidelines right up until voting ends, it’s perfectly reasonable for a sanction form to come in past the voting deadline, and be considered by the election board.

If the election board does its due diligence and considers the violation form, there is little question about what should be done. It’s too late to ban the Social Justice Referendum from campaigning online. And having a band on Bruin Walk singing to call for people to vote for the referendum when there is supposed to be no campaigning at all is an egregious violation of the previous sanction. This comes after a week in which the Social Justice Referendum representatives have been found guilty of spending nearly 10 times the amount originally allowed, and continuing to campaign while under sanction.

In the interview with The Bruin on Thursday, Allen admitted that the election season this year was not fair.

Therefore, the only option left for the election board is to disqualify the Social Justice Referendum of 2016.

More than $2 million of student fees are on the line, and not even considering the submitted sanction form is grossly irresponsible.

There is no doubt that a disqualification this late in the process will be unpopular with some. But being popular isn’t the goal of the election board; it is to oversee a fair election. Considering the violation form and disqualifying the Social Justice Referendum is the duty of the election board, and it should have no fear in doing what it is supposed to.

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