No Sanctions for All-Campus Email

    A.S. Advocate General Courtney Hill, who chairs the Elections Committee, represented con campaign leader Kevin Quirolo in the hearing. Speaking on behalf of Quirolo (who filed the grievance),  she stated that claims in Gupta’s Feb. 29 email were false. Gupta wrote that the move to D-I would lead to higher U.S. News & World Report rankings, which Hill said was not necessarily true, as News & World does not use sports funding as criteria for ranking. In addition, the email said that students on financial aid would not be affected by the $495 annual student fee increase, since 29 percent of the increase returns to scholarship. Hill said that a portion of financial aid consists of loans, which students will need to pay back. Hill clarified that the grievance did not address the method Gupta used to send the email; Gupta has stated that he did not use any official resources or access a campuswide listserv improperly, as was earlier alleged. 

    Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Mac Zilber represented Gupta, who is currently in Walnut Creek, Calif. Zilber first addressed procedural problems with the hearing that violated sections of the Election Code — for example, Gupta had not been notified of the grievance in a timely manner. In regard to the charges, Zilber stated that Section 7.2.3 of the Elections Code allowed for sanctions against providing misleading information only if the information was “intentionally and provably false.”

    He cited Gupta’s arguments in defense of his email, specifically that although News & World does not use sports funding as a criteria, there is a definite correlation between D-I athletics and the rankings. In addition, Gupta had interpreted “on financial aid” loosely, as the term could be used to indicate students who have a full ride to UCSD and may not be required to pay back additional loans. Gupta obviously believed in the validity of his arguments and his arguments were not intentionally false, Zilber argued. 

    The Judicial Board ruled in favor of Gupta by dismissing the grievance in the interest of having a “free and fair election,” according to the official statement. 

    Quirolo said that the wording of the election code represented a policy failure.

    “The policy is written in such a way that it’s almost impossible to find someone guilty of offense, except in the most extreme examples,” Quirolo said. “Another issue is that this result failed to give special weight to the fact that [Gupta’s] not a student and he’s trying to influence the election.”

    But Zilber argued that the policy deliberately created a high standard for grievances related to misinformation. 

    “It is not for A.S. to police free speech or campaigning,” Zilber said. “We deliberately set a very high standard of evidence in these cases so that people could only be sanctioned if they said something blatantly false, such as that the referendum would cost $0 or $1000.”

    The second grievance of the night, filed March 7 by Engineering Senator Parminder Sandhu, alleged that members of the con campaign violated election guidelines by campaigning in classrooms. The evidence provided included photos of an individual writing anti-referendum messages on classroom boards. 

    Quirolo said that the con campaign leaders had explicitly told other members not to campaign in this way.

    “It would be extremely difficult to pin down the con campaign as specifically responsible for a lot of the chalking,” he said. “I, personally, told people to stop chalking the classrooms, but apparently that didn’t happen. I stopped as soon as people told me it was an offense, told other people, and so it would be inappropriate to hold responsible representatives of the official campaign.  We did the responsible thing.”

    The Judicial Board eventually voted 5-0-1 to dismiss the grievances on the grounds that the photographic evidence had no timestamp confirming its veracity. In addition, the official statement said that there was evidence that, on or prior to Feb. 29, both sides of the campaign had already communicated regarding the issue, which was evidence that should have been submitted.

    Hill said that, despite both grievances being dismissed, the new method of having the Elections Committee represent a grievance — and not the parties themselves — was a success because it preserved neutrality and reduced stress. 

    Students can vote in the special election on TritonLink until Friday, March 9 at 4 p.m. The results will be announced March 9 at 6 p.m. at Round Table Pizza. 


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