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Alleged SGA election infraction could impede a transparent process

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Though the campaign “season” for those interested in being president and vice president of DePaul’s Student Government Association (SGA) is barely underway, there have already been allegations of an election infraction that could impact the fairness of the results.

Michael Lynch, who is running for president, said that Andrew Willett and Michael Greene, who are also running for president and vice president, used a master list of emails for student organization that is available to cabinet-level SGA members.

If evidence is found that a mass email went out to these organizations, this could constitute an infraction and a sanction could be placed against the Willett-Greene ticket.

In the fall, there were no allegations of election infractions. Anyone who has concerns that there may be an infraction can reach out to Megan Scoville, the chair of the Election Operations Board, who will then look into the allegation and determine if a penalty should be applied to the campaign or the referenda practitioner.

When alleged infractions do come up, it is the job of the Election Operations Board (EOB) to determine if there was an infraction and to then follow through with the proper course of action.

According to the EOB bylaws, penalties for a candidate may include a written warning by the EOB Chair unless the violation is one of slander or libel against another candidate in which time a vote will be taken without a warning where the candidate can be disqualified by a two-thirds vote of the EOB.

A second offense will result in disqualification by a two-thirds vote of the EOB.

Violators of the EOB Bylaws may also be subject to action by the Dean of Students where appropriate, the bylaws said.

In more extreme cases, any action by a candidate referenda petitioner, organization or individual that violates university policy constitutes an obligation of the EOB to report the conduct to the University Judicial Board.

Scoville, who is currently the vice president of SGA, said that the bylaws lay out a clear course of action and that she and others on the EOB take allegations of election infractions seriously because it is important to the study body to have a fair process.

“The bylaws are clear about the steps it would take for a candidate to become ineligible,” Scoville said on the broader topic of election infractions since she could not talk about specific investigations. “We (on EOB) take this seriously. We’re committed to ensuring it’s a fair process.”

Before the election in May, Scoville and those on the EOB will have to investigate the potential infraction on top of vetting social media posts, posters and other campaign materials to make sure there is no slander. A lot of the decisions about election infractions are up to the EOB chair, and, depending on the situation, could then be handed over to the judicial board.

Willett, who is executive vice president of Student Affairs, denied these allegations and said he did not violate SGA guidelines.

“The rumor that we used the student organization master spreadsheet is incorrect,” he said in a statement given to The DePaulia.

“We have only reached out to student organizations that we have friends in. All emails came from personal connections and any and all emails have been taken from Orgsync, which is accessible to all DePaul students.”

Willett went on to say that transparency is at the forefront of Willett and Green campaign.

Lynch, whose ticket includes Gracie Covarrubias for vice president, said that protecting the election process is important to creating a transparent process.

“The students deserve a fair election. This is about transparency and fairness for all candidates. We have to set a standard. SGA should be the moral compass of the school, not the protectors of the status quo.”

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Alleged SGA election infraction could impede a transparent process