HILO, Hawaii – A group of students running for University of Hawaii Student Association Senate claim they were wrongfully disqualified as candidates for office after an election took place last week.
The seven students are philosophically united behind a common goal of reform. But last Thursday, they were all notified that they were ‘disqualified’ for allegedly violating the Election Code, although they say no specifics were given.
They told their story to Big Island Video News on Monday evening. They believe the disqualifications are a result of their campaign to bring change to the campus.
The University seems to be in agreement with the candidates for student government. The Director of University Relations, Jerry Chang, told us that the disqualifications were not appropriate and that a new student government election will be held. The University promises to keep a closer eye on the process this time around.
Before learning the election had been nullified, the students distributed this list of questions for university officials. Although they now know the election has been tossed out, they still have a number of other questions that remain unanswered.
Open Questions for UH Hilo:
April 30, 2014
Submitted by: Ryu Kakazu on behalf of:
Disqualified UH Hilo Student Candidates:Glenn Aanstoos, Ryu Kakazu, Josh Boranian, Chantelle Mashreghy , Jarod Campbell and Ardena Saarinen
On April 24, 2014 at least 7 of the 17 student candidates for UH Hilo student government were ‘disqualified’ by the UH Hilo Student Association Election Committee consisting of Yuri Zhuraw and Joyce Pulega Auau under the advice of Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano. We feel that we have been treated unfairly. We ran a campaign on a platform of reform and transparency at UH Hilo. We believe we are being falsely accused and unfairly treated as a result. Because Ellen Kusano and the Election Committee have been unwilling to answer questions previously from student candidates we will again ask these questions to UH Hilo, students, and to the public:
1) UNFAIR PROCESS
You claim 5 of us were disqualified for violating the following the election code:
‘SECTION 3. LIMITATIONS.
Candidates and/or their supporters shall neither actively campaign nor allow campaign posters to be displayed within 200 feet of the polling area during the election on April 22 – April 23, 2014 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
1a) Why don’t you give specifics as to how we violated the election code?
1b) Why were no students running for office warned that they might be in possible violation of the election code?
2) VOTE COUNTING/ BALLOT BOX HANDLING
The voting ended at 5pm on Wednesday.
2a) Where did the ballot box go at that time?
2b) Who had access to it?
2c) Did anybody have access to it alone?
2d) Where is it now?
2e) Have the votes been counted or handled in any other way?
2f) If the results have been counted what is the result?
2g) Were the votes counted before or after you decided to disqualify the UHHSA candidates?
3) WHO WAS DISQUALIFIED?
As far as we know, you disqualified 7 of the 17 candidates running for UHHSA office, 2 of whom were running unopposed.
3a) Was anybody else outside of the 7 people disqualified?
3b) If so for what reason?
4) UNFAIR DISQUALIFICATION
One student candidate, Ardena Saarinen, was disqualified the day after the election. She had been confirmed via email on April 10, 2014 as a candidate prior to her notice of disqualification. The Election Committee claims that was that she had not completed her initial paperwork correctly. She claims to have filled out her paperwork correctly and asked for what specific paperwork she did not fill out properly and you do not respond to her.
4a) Why are you not responding to her?
4b) Do you think it is fair to disqualify a confirmed candidate the day after the election after they were previously confirmed?
5) PRIVACY AT THE POLLING PLACE
From the UHHSA Election Code:
SECTION 2. BALLOTING.
Voting shall be done by secret ballot.
5a) In past years at UH Hilo students were given a voting booth of sorts to vote in private. Why weren’t students given a private place to vote this year?
5b) Why were election officials verbally influencing students to vote by telling the students they could not reference their private handouts?
5c) Why did election officials encourage students that they “don’t have to mark a vote for a candidate who is uncontested because it doesn’t matter?”
6) LEGITIMATE HAND OUTS
In the election packet it states,
‘Consider making hand outs or stickers for campaigning on the VOTING days.’
6a) Why were students being told they could not reference the handout?
6b) Why did Yuri Zhuraw physically grab the handout out of students’ hands?
6c) Why did Ellen Kusano tell Chantelle Masreghy that Chanetelle was acting ‘unethically’ by handing out handouts over 200ft from the poll on election day?
6d) Why did Ellen Kusano advise the election committee initially to tell student voters they could not use the election handout? When candidates objected to Mrs. Kusano arbitrary rule she went to the election table and said (recording available),
‘’If a student comes with one of these[candidate hand outs] please ask them if they will throw it away because it is improper in the voting area, if they don’t want to they don’t have to.’
– UHHSA Adviser Ellen Kusano
6e) Why did Ellen Kusano advise the UHHSA election committee to tell students something that is not in the election code as if it is a rule?
7) UNFAIR TREATMENT
You disqualified one person, Melinda Alles, who was running unopposed for Treasurer. Melinda was on our handout but wasn’t actively campaigning.
7a) Why did you disqualify her?
We believe a hostile working environment is being created by Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano. We believe we are being treated unfairly by the UHHSA Election Committee consisting of Yuri Zhuraw and Joyce Pulega Auau under the advice of Ellen Kusano.
In conclusion we ask:
1) that the votes be counted fairly,
2) that the Election Committee be censured for their unfair behavior,
3) that Ellen Kusano be censured for fostering a hostile and unfair institutional environment,
4) that Ellen Kusano not be allowed to have influence over students in the future,
5) that the legitimate UHHSA be allowed to take office May 1, 2014,
6) that the new UHHSA have the right to:
a) hire a professional student government adviser,
b) hire a professional financial clerk,
c) be allowed autonomy from Ellen Kusano and Campus Center.
Disqualified UH Hilo Student Candidates:
Glenn Aanstoos, Ryu Kakazu, Josh Boranian, Chantelle Mashreghy, Jarod Campbell and Ardena Saarinen