ASG election commission receives reports of harassment, does not find violation of election guidelines


Jonah Elkowitz/The Daily Northwestern

Associated Student Government presidential candidates shake hands after the conclusion of Tuesday night’s debate.

Alex Perry and Maia Pandey

Associated Student Government’s election commission received reports of “discrimination and harrassment based on race and ethnicity” in the presidential election, commission chair Jo Scaletty told The Daily Thursday.

Vice presidential candidate Camila Vicens told The Daily the Office of Equity reached out to her after Tuesday’s debate regarding reports of identity-based cyberbullying directed toward her. After hearing from the Office of Equity, the Grow-Vicens campaign sent the election commission screenshots of social media posts that contained references to her Latinx identity, Vicens said. 

In a statement posted to social media later, Vicens said these comments referencing her identity did not come from Jason Hegelmeyer and Donovan Cusick, the presidential and vice presidential candidate respectively.

Earlier today, presidential candidate Jason Hegelmeyer also received communication from the Office of Equity concerning comments directed toward him on social media. The letter did not specify the nature of the comments, though the campaign said anonymous comments about Hegelmeyer appeared on YikYak after the debate.

Scaletty said the commission did not find any violations of election guidelines after reviewing the materials submitted by the Grow-Vicens campaign, though it recommends students who feel “negatively impacted” to submit a report to the Bias Incident Response Team.

“We recognize the harm that these comments and statements can have on students, nevertheless,” Scaletty said. “As the election season wraps up, we want to encourage all students to treat each other with respect and dignity, and we strongly condemn the statements that do not do this.”

Vicens, a Weinberg sophomore without previous ASG experience, is running alongside presidential candidate and College Republicans senator David Grow. The pair is facing off against Hegelmeyer, currently the chair of ASG’s Campus Life Committee, and ASG Chief of Staff Donovan Cusick, who are running for president and vice president, respectively. 

During the debate, Vicens said if elected, her experience as a Latinx woman on campus would shape her leadership on ASG. 

Vicens told The Daily Thursday that several current and past members of ASG have told her that her experience is not an isolated incident and online harassment of candidates has been a past concern.

“As the person who most of this harassment is coming towards, I am incredibly disappointed at the ASG Election Commission for allowing this to happen,” Vicens said. “The fact that there’s no rule regarding harassment and bullying of candidates is frankly ridiculous.”

During the debate, Hegelmeyer also spoke about his identity and its impact on his goals for ASG. As the senator representing For Members Only, Northwestern’s premier Black student organization, Hegelmeyer authored legislation to permanently grant FMO a seat in the Senate.

One of the campaign platform’s four pillars focusing exclusively on supporting marginalized students — including plans to support NU Community Not Cops demands, provide low-income students with a free U-Pass and expand Student Enrichment Services at NU. 

“ASG has a long history of sidelining and excluding Black and brown voices…and that’s why we’re uplifting marginalized voices as one of our core platforms,” Hegelmeyer said.

After hearing of the commission’s statement on materials submitted by the Grow-Vicens campaign, Hegelmeyer and Cusick told The Daily they were not aware of any reports of dsicrimination. 

After reaching out to the commission for more information, the slate was told that neither campaign had violated the election code.

“We are sad and sorry to hear that David and Camila feel that they have been harassed for their race or ethnicity online,” the Hegelmeyer-Cusick campaign said. “We find harassment of any kind to be incredibly unacceptable and we entirely condemn such behavior.”

The campaign has reached out to Grow and Vicens to express concern and to offer a conversation about how to best address the issue.

Voting for the presidential election opened on Wildcat Connection at 7 p.m. Thursday and will close at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

This article has been updated to include a statement Camila Vicens later posted to social media.

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This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information becomes available.