A special “Ad Hoc Committee” was approved Monday at the final Student Government Association meeting to investigate voting practices during the recent SGA Elections, which were held last week.
An ad hoc committee is a committee created on an emergency notice in order to deal with an issue.
“I came from a country that was full of corruption and I did not come to America for even more blatant corruption,” Senator Iye Kargbo said in her address to the senate regarding student concerns.
Kargbo also presented a letter expressing the need to look into the ethical practices of last week’s elections and form the committee to hold –hearings.
In the letter, many practices by some VSU groups before or during the SGA elections were questioned.
The alleged unethical practices were:
•Certain groups collected BlazeView information and casting votes of fellow organization members both willingly and unwillingly.
•Certain groups collected election packets for other individuals prior to the time of the elections against election rules. (VSU rules states each individual must come to the Dean of Student and obtain election packets for his or her self.)
•Particular organizations obtained election packets before students were allowed to receive the packets.
•Some VSU staff members were also involved in influencing the election in a conflict of interest prior to and during the elections.
Also, according to Senator DeAndre Jones, students complained of “Davis-Powers” picket signs that were displayed in front of fraternity homes on Baytree Road, which is against election rules because VSU does not own the fraternity homes on Baytree Road, therefore showing campaigning was going on off campus.
Jones then said that the allegation was dropped because of staff influences on the Election’s Commissioner.
Kargbo said individuals would not be judged by the committee.
“This committee will not render judgment on the alleged individuals, but will serve to clarify allegations and give students the closure of the matter,” said Kargbo in her letter to the senate.
“I just want it to be known that SGA and the Elections Committee are here for students and if you do participate in elections there is no corruption,” Kargbo said.
Current Vice President Adrian Gibson appointed the members of the ad hoc committee to hold the hearings. The committee will be comprised of senators.
“I think this committee is an opportunity for the senators of SGA to show the student body some transparency,” Senator Helen Burkett said. “I think Iye’s letter was a formal way of saying many are concerned with how the elections were handled this year and want closure. I think that if handled correctly, this could help SGA in the long run. It will show the students we really do hear their concerns and are willing to address them.”
A leaked letter sent to Zeta Tau Alpha Inc. and all other IFC and CPC members recommended that all members in their organization vote for a “suggested voting ballot.”
The suggested voting ballot included the following candidates:
• President Graham Davis
• Vice President Maleaha Derika Powers
• Whitney Smith
• Comptroller John “Drew” McCall
• Russell Reitz
• Kyle Hensley
• Anthony Defilice
• Kody Kalain
• Alexander Barrickman
Senator DeAndre Jones said that there are witnesses that will testify to the practices of organizations alleged to have committed unethical voting behavior at the hearing.
“These are not hearsay allegations. We have plenty of evidence and many people want to testify,” Jones said.
Jones says that SGA has someone to concur with the fact candidate forms were passed out at weekly grand chapter meetings of certain organizations and some even asked for members to print confirmation letters from the SGA election page to show they did vote or be charged with fines.
Yet Jones admits that the BlazeView password allegation does not have as strong of evidence as the others.
Dean of Students Russell Mast said he had heard of no such complaints from students and directed all other questions to the SGA election’s committee and President DeMario Jones.
Graham Davis, President Elect said he had not heard of such allegations and that the students’ votes voice their opinions.
“As far as I’m concerned, the VSU student body’s voice was heard loud and clear, and the election results speak for themselves,” Davis said. “As SGA president elect, I aim to hear each student’s voice loud and clear, as well, in the future.”
In light of the allegations, DeAndre Jones believes that Davis should not have been elected president.
“Because of the allegations, I wonder how Graham received so many votes.” Jones said.
DeAndre Jones sites newly elected President Davis’ record in politics as a reason for concern.
“In my personal opinion, I don’t think he has the credentials to be our SGA President,” DeAndre Jones said. “He has never been in SGA. He only has shown up to two meetings prior the qualifying meeting. From what I know he has only been a part of his fraternity. You need to be part of more than one organization or at least be in SGA.”
“I think from a VSU standpoint as a SGA senator, you need to have those qualities. How are you going to run for SGA and you haven’t even been a part of it? I don’t have a problem with him personally, just his record.”
Not all SGA members care about the issue at hand.
Current President DeMario Jones feels that the elections are done and over and does not want to be a part of the hearings that will be held.
“I don’t want any part of it,” DeMario Jones said. “As far as I am concerned, the elections are over.”
The SGA Ad Hoc Committee meeting will be held “dead-day,” which is next Tuesday at an undisclosed time. According to Kargbo, the meeting will be private in order to keep the individuals testifying anonymous.
CORRECTION: Katie Smith is the President of Zeta Tau Alpha and was not contacted about the email.