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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

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SGA party #ForTheStudents receives temporary campaign suspension


Cameron Barrett placed multiple sanctions on the party that prevent members to campaign from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 20, the first day of voting. | File Photo

Cameron Barrett placed multiple sanctions on the party that prevent members to campaign from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 20, the first day of voting. | File Photo

SGA attorney general Cameron Barrett provided a temporary suspension of campaigning for the #ForTheStudents party after violations of UH branding and SGA Election Code.

As a result of multiple complaints filed against the #ForTheStudents party, Barrett placed multiple sanctions on the party prevent members to campaign from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 20, the first day of voting. The campaign ban will also require #ForTheStudents to take down their website and giveaway references during this period. 

COMPLAINT 03

In his analysis in this complaint, Barrett ruled that the manipulated colors of the University logo used on bids attached to the #ForTheStudents party website violated sections of the UH branding policy by breaking color scheme guidelines and failing to receive permission to use the University logo from the UH branding team. 

Barrett found that the altered logo similarly violated SGA Election Code A7S2C3, which gives the attorney general rights to classify violations to the Student Code of Conduct as Class A or below. In his decision, Barrett stated that the branding violation does not adhere to University policy, which violates the Student Code of Conduct and the SGA Election Code. 

Jasmine Khademakbari, a presidential candidate representing the Students Unite party, brought attention to the branding issue by filing the complaint against #ForTheStudents presidential candidate, Isaiah Martin.

COMPLAINT 04

The #ForTheStudents party faced similar allegations in this complaint, which claimed Wassem Sarakbi, the party’s vice president candidate, and the party as a whole violated SGA Election Code A4S3C1 by not including who was responsible for funding, producing and distributing the promotional material on their marketing. 

The complaint questioned Sarakbi’s business card and the #ForTheStudents website in specific, claiming that they do not include the required information from the Election Code.

Barrett decided that the complaint against the business card had merit, while the complaint against the website had all the information required, did not. This resulted in a sanction banning the whole #ForTheStudents party for campaigning on Feb. 20 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., including a requirement to take down the website and stop giveaway promotions during this time.

COMPLAINT 02

The first complaint, “Complaint #20-2,” filed against #ForTheStudents claimed Martin and the party violated section A4S2C13 of the Election Code by offering students entrance into a giveaway of assorted items in exchange for joining a texting list. 

Through investigation, Barrett found Martin did not violate section A4S2C13 because the text list and giveaway are not limited to students who pledge to show support for #ForTheStudents. In his analysis, Barrett said that requesting students to join the text list does not directly change the outcome of the election.

COMPLAINT 07

Another complaint filed against the party occurred when one of the #ForTheStudents members running for senator, Maricar Gomez, posted a graphic about her involvement in the upcoming SGA Election on her Instagram story that had a picture of the UH mascot Shasta and the official UH logo.

Their party’s defense was that Gomez did not violate UH’s branding policy because Instagram includes the ability to use UH branding. They said that in order for this to be considered a violation UH would need to file a case with the application “GIPHY.” They also said Gomez has the right of free speech to utilize the branding of UH. 

SGA decided that the complaint had merit and is a violation of SGA Election Guidance. However, there is not enough evidence to find an explicit violation of UH’s branding policy itself. 

It was decided that Gomez will be personally assessed a Class B penalty and suspended from campaigning on Feb. 20, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. 

Gomez is not required to take down her social media or references to her on the #ForTheStudents website. However, there will be no additional posts or mentions of Gomez’s candidacy during the duration of the ban.

COMPLAINT 08

The final complaint claimed that Martin violated UH’s commercial and non-news filming guidelines after he posted a few promotional videos featuring himself and select members of the #ForTheStudents team.

The party defended that their act was not commercial in nature so it did not constitute a violation of the University’s rules on commercial filming. 

SGA found that the complaint lacked merit and is not a violation of the election code or University policy.

#ForTheStudents’ Response

In a statement sent to The Cougar regarding the series of complaints, Martin stated that #ForTheStudents will not file any complaint of an election code violation in this election cycle. 

“We are disappointed in our opponents attempt to manipulate the election code guidelines in order to hinder FTS’ ability to campaign on the first day of voting,” said #ForTheStudents presidential candidate Martin in a statement. 

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