That was how Cameron Luster, a candidate for Student Government Association undergraduate vice president, described the recent election for next year’s officers.
“I shouldn’t be penalized for somebody else breaking the rules,” he said. “If I deserve to be vice president, then I deserve to be vice president. If somebody broke the rules and they cheated, they don’t deserve the position.”
Luster and another vice presidential candidate, Hassen Hafiz, filed a grievance against the now president-elect Vivek Kuruvilla and vice president-elect Chris Oltorik.
“Whenever the candidates receive the unofficial results of the election, it’s like ‘just brace yourself for a sea of complaints against the winner’,” Oltorik said. “Because every year, the people that did not win just file grievances against the winner.”
Oltorik, who is part of the judiciary committee, was temporarily barred from judiciary communications pending the committee’s investigation on the grievance filed against him.
Kuruvilla ran uncontested.
Oltorik was accused by Hafiz and Luster for utilizing university student activity funding for financing campaign materials. Candidates have a strict $75 spending limit, which can only be paid out-of-pocket.
Luster said his main concerns were Oltorik not being transparent with campaign financing and campaigning within 50 feet of a polling station — which is also against SGA rules.
In the April 2 print edition of The Commonwealth Times, Kuruvilla and Oltorik were pictured in what the grievance described as a “large feature.” Since the Commonwealth Times is funded by a portion of the university student activity fee, Hafiz and Luster claimed the picture was “inappropriate promotion.”
All presidential and vice presidential candidates were mentioned in the accompanying story and the CT reached out to all candidates for comment.
In a unanimous decision, the SGA judiciary committee found the election results to be valid. The committee found the CT was not at fault for giving any candidates an advantage in the election.
Oltorik said he was upset by the process because he feared nepotism within the organization would unseat him as the incoming vice president.
“There’s a lot of favoritism in SGA,” he said. “It’s been going on for a while, and it was problematic last year, it’s just been kind of a cliquey environment that isn’t that conducive to collaboration.”
However, he said he does not harbor ill will against Hafiz and Luster.
“Sure they hurt my feelings, but they’re not terrible people.”
Hafiz said he misguidedly filed the grievance and is now ready to work under the incoming administration.
“I firmly believe that they won the election fair and square,” Hafiz said. “The rules were clear in what was considered out of bounds. I misread them and assumed that the USC&A facilities were off limits. Under this assumption, I filed a complaint.”
Luster, on the other hand, said he is not entirely convinced.
“I hope he ran his campaign truthfully, but there’s no closure and it’s very suspicious. We’ve seen what dishonest processes have done by just looking at the national government,” Luster said. “I’ll be completely transparent [at the next SGA meeting]. I think what is happening is really bad for SGA. I think people don’t want to follow a dishonest process.”
Hafiz said he is just ready to get back to work.
“There are some individuals in the leadership of SGA who are more concerned about the individuals who won versus the fair process,” Hafiz said. “These tyrants may dislike the individuals who won, stirring the pot and motivating members to fight the process.”
Oltorik, along with Kuruvilla will be sworn in Wednesday. He said he already has plans for the next year to prevent using grievances for retaliatory purposes.
“What I want to do is change (the process) so that no unofficial results are seen by any candidate until each candidate agrees that no rules have been broken,” Oltorik said.
Looking toward the upcoming school year, Oltorik said he is happy the investigation wrapped up and he can return to his duties.
“I hope that everyone in SGA can be happy at the end of the year and next year because I don’t want there to be any problems, I just want everyone to work toward the common goal of improving the university for the student body,” Oltorik said.
Nia Tariq, Staff Writer