The night the Association of the Students of the University of Nebraska was to receive the results of the 2020 election, the Electoral Commission held a hearing over five complaints received this week.
Three complaints were filed against Envision, one against Progress and one by Sustain UNL over the altered wording of a ballot question the recognized student organization submitted.
Envision faced complaints on the grounds of using ASUN resources for personal or campaign gain. One of the instances involved current ASUN president Emily Johnson posting in support of the Envision student election group on her Facebook account, which Envision then screenshot and posted on their Instagram story.
The post on Envision’s Instagram account addressed Johnson as the “current president.” Brock Calamari, who submitted the complaint, said Johnson’s position as president was technically an ASUN resource. Calamari is also a candidate for the Committee of Fee Allocations with Progress.
“I think that an outgoing president, as an individual, has the right to endorse a candidate or party,” Johnson said.
After deliberating among themselves, the Electoral Commission representatives decided that Johnson’s actions did not violate any rules.
The second complaint against Envision, in the same vein, was filed by graduate student William Newman. According to Newman, he and other graduate students received a mass email from current ASUN member and Envision party member Eric Rodene promoting Envision in the election.
Newman said he submitted the complaint because he was not sure if the email violated the Electoral Commission rules on usage of a list server. After talking about the incident with the commission representatives, all parties came to the conclusion that the email addresses had been obtained from public sources, thereby not violating any rules. Newman withdrew his complaint.
According to Drew Harrahill, Envision’s candidate for internal vice president, he had submitted a form to the electoral commission ahead of time to ask if the emails violated any rules, and he received a response that said it would not be a violation.
The last complaint against Envision was lodged by Electoral Commission director Katherine Alberts. According to her complaint, Harrahill had posted a message in the ASUN GroupMe group chat using the word “envision,” which seemed to reference his party.
Harrahill defended his message, claiming that it was just a “cheeky joke” and not campaign material.
After deliberation, the voting members of the commission decided that the Harrahill did not violate any bylaws and issued the following statement to him.
“We are disturbed by this attempt to ‘push buttons,’ especially from someone running for a leadership role in the organization,” Jared Long said on behalf of the commission. “[Envision] has pushed the limits extraordinarily far in regards to using ASUN facilities throughout the election.”
The complaint against Progress was lodged by Johnson, also regarding a social media post. According to the report, Oscar Canizales, Progress’s candidate for internal vice president, posted a promotional piece for Progress on his Instagram story that utilized both the University of Nebraska-Lincoln “N” and ASUN logos. Johnson stated that this was a problem, as it could be inferred that Progress had the endorsement of ASUN.
“I had no malicious intent with [using] either the ASUN logo or the [University of] Nebraska [logo],” Canizales said at the hearing.
All parties agreed that there had been no harm meant by the error, and the commission decided not to fine Progress.
The final complaint was brought forth by Sustain UNL, an RSO that had successfully submitted a survey question to appear on the ballot. According to Drew Havens, who wrote the complaint, the question that was printed online was not the same question that had been decided upon at the senate meeting.
Long, who also serves as the current internal vice president, admitted that ASUN had made a mistake in transferring the question to the ballot.
“We apologize,” Long said. “That certainly was not our intention, especially after the long debate that we had, or the senate had, [about the question].”