Grow-Vicens slate successfully challenges one of three strikes against campaign, remains on ASG presidential ballot

Two horizontal photos of both sets of candidates in front of a purple background at the debate.

Jonah Elkowitz/The Daily Northwestern

Voting closes on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Maia Pandey and Alex Perry

After receiving three strikes, the Grow-Vicens campaign successfully appealed to the Associated Student Government Rules Committee Friday and saw one strike overruled, keeping the slate on the ballot.

In an ASG election, three strikes against a campaign, meaning violations of campaign regulations, typically result in its disqualification, but slates can appeal any punishments issued. ASG’s Rules Committee issued one of these strikes — for a “lack of mutual respect” — to both the Grow-Vicens campaign and its opponent, the Hegelmeyer-Cusick campaign. The decision followed a guideline established by both ASG code and Student Organizations & Activities Code of Conduct. 

Election Commission Chair Jo Scaletty said the commission issued the mutual respect strike due to a general pattern of disrespect observed on social media from both slates.

“The commission is definitely very conscious of how vitriolic this has gotten. It’s disheartening to see all this happening,” Scaletty said. “We want to make sure that all students are treated with respect.”

Concerned parties can first report violations to the election commission, which makes the initial decision on whether to issue a strike, but candidates can appeal these decisions to the Rules Committee. The committee then makes a final decision about the violation in consultation with the election code, as well as the ASG code and constitution.

The Grow-Vicens campaign also received a strike for campaigning before the allotted campaign period Sunday, which resulted in a 12 hour suspension, in addition to a defamation strike for public posts on vice presidential candidate Camila Vicens’ Instagram account. 

The Grow-Vicens campaign appealed both the pre-campaigning and lack of mutual respect strikes. After deliberations Friday afternoon, the Rules Committee upheld the pre-campaigning strike, but not the lack of mutual respect strike.

“Me and David are really excited to move forward with a fair and kind race,”  Vicens said. “We really want to thank everyone involved in the election committee for being communicative and accepting our appeal.” 

Vicens wrote in the post — which has since been taken down — that the opposite slate had harassed her due to her identity. The Office of Equity reached out to her about cyberbullying directed toward her, Vicens wrote, though the election commission determined Thursday that the evidence of harassment Vicens provided did not violate election policy.

Presidential candidate David Grow also reposted Vicens’ post alleging harassment by the Hegelmeyer-Cusick slate with regard to her Latine identity. In a subsequent post, Vicens said she was not referencing any comments that Jason Hegelmeyer and Donovan Cusick — presidential and vice presidential candidate, respectively — had personally posted.

“I do not mean any hate towards Jason or Donovan,” Vicens wrote. “While they have made what I consider to be rude Tweets, they have not touched on my ethnicity.”

The Rules Committee wrote in its decision that the post did not contain any “threatening or dangerous comments,” and did not violate Northwestern’s Guidance on Civility and Guidance.

Violations listed in this guidance include angry outbursts, intimidating comments or verbal abuse, the decision stated.

“As Vicens issued a quick apology condemning disrespect toward her opponents and clarifying her intentions, she took responsibility for the impact of her actions in a respectful manner,” the decision stated.

The election commission initially ruled that the same post did not qualify as an instance of defamation, but the Hegelmeyer-Cusick campaign appealed this decision to the Rules Committee. The committee then reversed this decision, determining that the post was a defamation of the Hegelmeyer-Cusick slate and therefore a policy violation.

Rules Committee Chair Dalia Segal-Miller said navigating the complaints has been difficult because social media did not play as much of a role in campaigning when the code and constitution were originally written.

“The rules around (social media) may not be completely up to date, especially since the pandemic,” she said, “but ultimately, we are looking at what the specific candidates are putting out on their Instagram accounts, on the campaign Instagram account…and if those are in line with the election code.”

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

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Twitter: @maiapandey

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