By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 4, 2013
The Central Student Judiciary will hear appeals filed by parties youMICH and forUM against the University Elections Commission this weekend in what could be the penultimate step before ratifying an election that was supposed to end more than a week ago.
The initial results of the election were overturned when the University Election Commission found that forUM’s presidential candidate, LSA junior Chris Osborn, was guilty of influencing students while voting and disqualified him and his vice-presidential running mate, LSA junior Hayley Sakwa.
Osborn and Sakwa had nearly 500 more votes than youMICH’s candidates. Business junior Mike Proppe and LSA sophomore Bobby Dishell, youMICH's candidates are in line to take the executive office if CSJ rules against forUM’s appeal.
youMICH will also be appealing the UEC’s decision to dismiss its complaint that forUM misused an e-mail listserv. If forUM — which was awarded eight demerits for violations of financial contribution limits by an individual — receives two or more demerits, the party and all its candidates will be disqualified from the election.
Supporters from forUM have already responded to the disqualification of their presidential ticket. Earlier this week a Rackham student Wonwoo Lee, a current assembly representative, started a UPetition through the CSG website that denounces the UEC’s decision.
The UPetition service requires users to use their uniqname to sign the petition and requires no response from CSG regardless of the amount of signatures.
The petition, which had more than 600 signatures as of Thursday night, called Osborn and Sakwa’s disqualification “unprecedented and egregious” and alleges that the photographs of Osborn influencing students while voting were taken by members of “opposing parties” who were "stalking" Osborn during the election.
“It is outrageous that such underhanded tactics be allowed to undermine the voices of the Michigan student body,” the petition reads. “This is a student government election. Lawsuits should not be an annual tradition.”
Another student involved in the election decided to make use of the CSG’s online petition service, too. LSA junior Russ Hayes, who won a seat in the assembly with youMICH, submitted a petition shortly after which calls on University President Mary Sue Coleman to officially support cake, not a party candidate, but dessert.
Hayes declined to comment on the petition, entitled “Cake is Delicious.” The petition identifies a presumably ficticious group, forCAKE, who believe cake has been pigeonholed as a desert reserved only for birthdays.
“We demand that the University Administration and the wider campus community accept that cake can be tasty and filling in any form: be it carrot, bundt, sponge, or even fruit,” it reads.
As of Thursday night, the petition had fewer than 30 signatures, but signees included Osborn, Proppe and momentUM’s presidential candidate, Nick Swider.
As some students prepare for student government court cases and file petitions that require no response, other students are making headway on their campaign promises.
Business junior Scott Christopher said he has already been in talks with E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs, to set up a meeting. While Christopher said the CSG president can accomplish more than an average student, he will present three points of his platform to Harper.
He has identified two of the most important points of his platform as improving the Counseling and Psychological Services and adding a “blue-light button” to the University of Michigan app, which would alert University Police of a student’s location in the event of an emergency.
Christopher said he is still trying to decide what the third goal he presents to Harper will be, but has been asking students around campus for their input.
Christopher said he and his campaign team noted actions by other parties for which complaints could have been filed, but didn’t report them as they would have had no effect on the outcome of the election.
Still, he realizes why forUM and youMICH have chosen to grapple in court, and noted that these hearings seem to be a product of an election code that encourages suits to be filed.
“I understand both sides of the coin,” Christopher said. “I understand the incentives which are built into the process after the elections are over.”
Nonetheless, he said the more protracted the fallout from the election, the less respect students will have for student government.
“I think at this point, each individual has to make that decision on their own by saying, ‘Can I make more change within CSG? Is this worth fighting for?’ ” Christopher said. “That was something I weighed and said, ‘You know what? The hearings and stuff probably won’t change the outcome for me. If they would, how much damage would be done by this, would it hurt me more than help me?’ ”
Despite the combative nature of the complaints and their ensuing appeals, Christopher said he thinks the newly-elected representatives and executives will get along.
“I know there’s a lot of emotions involved right now and I’m hoping that once it dies down we can start working together,” he said. “I truly believe both sides want to, but when candidates put 100-plus hours into getting elected, then they don’t get it, that is tough.”