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Student president-elect’s campaigning questioned

KATHYVAN TRAN, Associate Editor

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Student Advocate-elect Christopher Lee was disqualified from his position after an emergency meeting called by the associated student government election commission found him guilty of violating election rules during his campaign.

The commission met at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 4, to review a formal complaint made against Lee that accused him of explicitly soliciting votes from students.

The complaint said that Lee approached students who were at computers and asked them to log onto Pipeline and vote for him.

According to the election commission’s rules for Spring 2017, “Candidates may not solicit votes from students who are actively using SBCC computers.”

As a result of this violation, Lee was disqualified from the position of Student Advocate.

Lee finished with 45 percent of the total votes for Student Advocate, with 432 students voting for him. First runner-up, Krystle Farmer, who finished with 33.54 percent of the vote and a total of 322 students voting for her, will replace Lee as Student Advocate.

President-elect Charlotte Donnay Rochard was also in attendance at the emergency meeting.

While the commission reviewed the accusations made against Lee, Rochard made no mention about any of her own campaign practices, yet eyewitness accounts from several staffers on The Channels, said that they also saw Rochard engaging in similar practices as Lee did.

James Howard, a lab teaching assistant for the computer science department, also said that he heard of Rochard soliciting votes in the lab that he works in, but did not witness it.

At about 11:30 a.m. Friday, The Channels Editor in Chief Alyssa Durant and News Editor Julia Pizza brought this information to the attention of Dr. Christopher Johnson, dean of student support services.

“It’s kind of out of my hands,” Johnson told The Channels, on the record. “But you know, they all break the rules.”

Johnson advised Durant and Pizza to contact outgoing-president Dylan Raiman, who made it clear that “this has been brought to my attention already.”

Raiman advised that a formal complaint in writing would have to be made, but said that without clear evidence or a photo, “nothing’s gonna happen.”

According to the violations and disqualifications section of the Spring 2017 Election Rules set forth by the commission, “accusations of a candidate violating the election rules must be in writing and formally submitted to the Election Commission Chair.”

The document however, does not specify that concrete evidence must be provided along with the formal complaint. So, Pizza went ahead and filed a formal complaint via email to Raiman, who serves as commission chair, at about 12:50 p.m. Friday.

“Charlotte is an electrical engineering major and spends time in the Computer Science Lab in the Humanities Building,” the complaint said. “During the week of campaigning, I saw this candidate going up and down the aisles talking to each student at a computer… [She] read out the link where the students could vote for her.”

The appeals process section of the commission’s rules states that “Written complaints and any other relevant materials” will be reviewed by the commission.

However, the text does not define what “other relevant materials” must be. The ambiguous language leaves this portion of the rule up for debate. Relevant materials may be interpreted as anything ranging from emails, texts, tweets, videos, flyers, and eyewitness accounts.

Lee was disqualified from his position of Student Advocate for his violation of the elections rules. Rochard is being accused of engaging in the same campaign practices that disqualified Lee from his position.

The commission’s rules states that “If a candidate is accused of violating the election rules, he or she will be subject to a review process.”

In an email copied to Durant and Pizza, Raiman requested a second emergency meeting at 1:57 p.m. Friday to review the complaint Pizza made against Rochard, to be set for Monday, May 15.

While Friday is The Channels’ last day of publication for spring semester, according to the student government’s Bylaws, “All Officers’ terms of office shall be one year, from July 1 through June 30.”

The Channels will follow up with this story in fall semester.


The Channels Editor’s Note

While The Channels acknowledges a conflict of interest in that the formal complaint made against Rochard was based off of several eyewitness accounts from staffers, nonetheless, another citizen’s on-the-record account is considered in the complaint as well. Furthermore, the election commission’s rules’ ambiguous text of “relevant materials” leaves the type of circumstantial evidence that can be used for review up for debate. It does not specifically define what that type of evidence must be included for review, such as a “photo,” as Raiman verbally suggested to Durant and Pizza Friday morning, or eyewitness accounts, which is what Pizza based her complaint off of. Finally, firsthand accounts may be more powerful than secondhand accounts such as word-of-mouth.

Durant and Pizza were not involved in the process of writing or editing this story.


Correction: Thursday, May 11

A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Rochard in fact engaged in the same campaign practices that disqualified Lee from his position. This updated version corrects the claim to say that Rochard was accused of engaging in the same campaign practices that disqualified Lee from his position.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Student president-elect’s campaigning questioned”

  1. Ryan Cullom on May 5th, 2017 3:38 pm

    Kind of sounds like they are picking and choosing who should have rules enforced for! Nice to see government corruption starting so soon!

    [Reply]

  2. Riley on May 9th, 2017 1:04 am

    I’ve known Charlotte, she is not someone who will cheat her way to accomplish things. She is studious and honest. There’s no room for cheating for Engineering majors, you end up failing because those Physics and Math do build up.

    For those that are not Computer Science/Engineering majors, the Computer Science lab is one of the most sexist places on campus. Gender ratio is pretty bad, men treating women like they can’t compute, I overheard a conversation between a faculty and student checking out a female Chemistry student and making inappropriate objectifying comments. It’s hard to leave the CS lab without hearing gossip, there are a few who makes it up and spreads it throughout the department. James’s statement should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Lee disqualified because he had students vote for him on spot which makes sense. Charlotte was encouraging students to vote in general, but not for her. It’s called a Computer Lab because it’s filled with computers for students to work on. Is she not allowed to attend lab during election? CS courses are assigned with lab, which is in the CS lab. With that logic, you can make up nonsense to disqualify her. Gossip tends to over exaggerate and I don’t why that is being used as an evidence to accuse Charlotte.

    [Reply]

  3. Nick Biechlin on May 12th, 2017 9:33 am

    I was approached in the Math Tutoring Lab, by both a female and a male (don’t remember the names now). The female was handing out slips of paper with the email address for voting handwritten on it. That may have backfired in more than one way, because I ended up voting for someone else. That’s politics…I agree with one of the comments above, it is disturbing that the student government candidates are aping what is going on in the real world. Or maybe that is the intention. Either way, it speaks volumes about what it going on today…

    [Reply]

According to the Student Press Law center, several professional news outlets have recently revamped or removed their online comment sections in an attempt to create more civilized discourse. The Channels encourages readers to use our comment section. We view it as a forum for our students and local community to discuss the news that we publish. In an open forum like this, readers are free to express themselves with certain guidelines. The Channels will refrain from approving the publication of comments that are: Personal attacks towards our staff, Threats, Libelous, Invasion of privacy towards the writer or source, Obscenity and hate speech, Content that does not adhere to The Channels or community standards.

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Student president-elect’s campaigning questioned