TU SA welcomes Jennifer Fierro as their President following a very controversial run-off

Former candidate, Athan Lau found guilty of violations leading to his disqualification and a new runoff.

Campus politics have been dominated for the past month by the unexpected events after the first Students Association Presidential run-off of the year. This run-off was quickly followed by multiple judicial hearings and a second run-off that resulted in the election of Jennifer Fierro as the new SA President.

The original two candidates, Sepand Ashenayi and Athan Lau, have both been involved in judicial hearings concerned with the legality of their actions during this past election season.

Following the election, Chief Election’s Officer Matt Mangan submitted a complaint to the SA Elections Committee over the Elections Code violations committed by Athan Lau.

On Feb. 14, Lau sent an email to administrators at the TU College of Law requesting access to their listserv to contact the law students as part of his campaign. This was a violation of the SA campaign rule that states “no campaigning may occur on any online campus forum or through any subscription based email list… unless that list is created for the explicit purpose of campaigning.”

Lau then met with respondents and SA Staff Advisor Peter Nguyen to discuss next steps. The Elections Committee presented Mr. Lau with three options according to their official report:
“ (1) concede the runoff election to Mr. Ashenayi without admitting wrongdoing, (2) withdraw from the runoff election without stating a reason or admitting wrongdoing, or (3) be publicly sanctioned.”

Lau decided to accept the third choice to be publicly sanctioned and make the public aware of his violation.

Brandon Swearengin then submitted a request for a Writ of Election on behalf of Lau where he claimed that Lau was prosecuted not in accordance with regulations and he therefore was not able to procure an adequate defense. The regulations he cited The SA Elections Committee was in violation of are:
“Elections Code § V(B)(2) stating ‘[a]ll complaints of alleged violations must be substantiated by witnesses or physical evidence deemed factual by the Student Association Elections Committee within twenty-four (24 hours) of the time the complaints are filed.’ and Elections Code § V(B)(2)(i) which provides ‘[t]he candidate or party against whom a complaint is filed must be informed of the charge by receiving a copy of the complaint and must be provided an opportunity for defense in front of the Elections Committee.’”

He also claimed that Mangan treated the candidates unfairly based on his own bias due to his membership in the same fraternity as Ashenayi. While Mangan reported Lau’s violation, Lau asserted that he did not report that Ashenayi campaigned using unauthorized flyers he left on the tables in the Allen Chapman Student Union which is prohibited.

Simultaneously, Lau’s opponent Ashenayi expressed his interest in an appeal in the form of a Writ of Election. Zachary Frame submitted this appeal on behalf of Ashenayi, claiming there should be a Writ of Election based on Lau’s violation of not one but three election rules:
“1. Section III(A)(1): ‘All campaign materials shall be submitted to the Chief Elections Officer by the candidate prior to their introduction into the campaign. All campaign material must be approved by the Chief Elections Officer with the advice of the Elections Committee, when necessary’
2. Section III(B)(1)(ii): ‘Electronic campaigning must include a disclaimer provided by the Chief Elections Officer…’
3. Section III(B)(1)(iii): ‘No campaigning may occur on any online campus forum or through any subscription based email list… unless that list is created for the explicit purpose of campaigning…’”

Petitioner Ashenayi argued in the judicial hearing that the decision of the Election Council was not sufficient reprimand for his actions and that instead Lau should be taken out of the race.

Ultimately Lau lost his case. The Elections Committee was deemed innocent, Mangan was not found to be a conflict of interest, and Ashenayi was able to prove that he simply handed out those flyers to individuals as a way of introducing himself and they were left on the tables not by him but by those individuals.

Ashenayi won his contention, therefore disqualifying Athan Lau from the running. His position in the runoff was replaced by Jennifer Fierro, the third place Presidential Candidate.

The run-off following Athan Lau’s disqualification between Jennifer Fierro and Sepand Ashenayi included a lively debate and two days of voting.

The TU SA now welcomes Jennifer Fierro as their new President and despite the rocky start to their new term, attitudes seem optimistic about their ability to be a sufficient successor.

Post Author: Aurora Stewart