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Student body president candidates break campaign rules

Two student body president (SBP) tickets were issued violations for beginning their campaigns before the official start of the election season.

Student body president candidate Jaylen Perkins and his vice president (VP) candidate Dante Rossi solicited meetings with a student organization to discuss their platform, and SBP candidate Gaby Meissner shared pictures of her campaign buttons over Snapchat -- both before campaigning officially began on Friday, Feb. 22.

All of the candidates for SBP and VP were required to attend a meeting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22. No campaigning was allowed before the end of the meeting.

Rossi reached out to the College Democrats to set up a time to visit the club and present their platform. Although the meeting was scheduled to occur after Feb. 22, he made the request on Feb. 21.

According to the SBP elections packet, "Campaigning includes, but is not limited to, any verbal, written, or implied request for political support or any activity that may facilitate the making of such a request."

The Associated Student Government (ASG) Elections Committee was provided evidence of the infraction and decided Perkins and Rossi's request for a meeting violated the rules.

Perkins and Rossi received a level one violation for the infraction - the least serious violation outlined in the elections packet. They were issued a 24-hour ban on campaign activity, which lasted all day on Saturday, Feb. 23.

"We didn't think it was anything malicious. We didn't think they were trying to do it intentionally," Cole Hankins, the Speaker of Senate and chair of the Elections Committee, said. "We didn't think it did anything to threaten the integrity of the election, so we just gave them a level one violation."

Rossi said the violation was his fault and that he did not realize he was breaking the rules.

"[Pre-campaigning] was never my intention," Rossi said. "Had I known that we would have gotten a violation for it, I never would have done it, but at the same time we accept that we did it. We moved on from it, and it won't happen again."

Meissner snapchatted friends who were not involved with her campaign pictures of her campaign buttons before campaigning was allowed to begin. The pictures were screenshotted and passed around to others in ASG, and multiple senators reported her to the Elections Committee.

The Elections Committee ruled that the photos constituted campaign activity, since they were being shown to people outside of Meissner's campaign staff.

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Meissner and her running mate, Hunter Meacham, were notified of the infraction on Sunday, Feb. 24, and their 24-hour ban took effect at midnight, lasting for the entire day on Monday, Feb. 25.

"It's 24 hours; that's time for us to acknowledge what happened but to move forward, do better and ensure it doesn't happen again and ensure no other violations occur," Meissner said.