Last night, the Columbia Elections Board ruled to disqualify General Studies Student Council University Senator candidate Jeffrey, GS ’18 from the race, effective immediately.
This decision was a result of remarks made by Jeffrey at a debate yesterday afternoon. In Jeffrey’s introductory statement, he mentioned another candidate, Ramond Curtis: “I’m someone that’s really committed to making the school better, and I want the best for this school. If I didn’t think I was the best candidate for this position, I’d step down. I’ve heard from Sean Ryan, next year’s chair of the Student Affairs committee, that Ramond is crap.” This statement is in violation of the Senate Election Rules outlined in a packet distributed to all candidates, which state that “it is strictly prohibited to demean any other candidate.”
We reached out to Jeffrey, and he said: “I don’t think I personally attacked Ramond’s character…My intent in making that comment was to demonstrate that I have better working relationships with next year’s Senate members.” It is worth noting that the disqualification decision was made by the Elections Board, which is run by CC and SEAS students, despite the fact that Jeffrey is a GS student running for a GSSC position.
Since all Senate voting is done by preferential balloting (voters can list their choices in order), any votes already cast listing Jeffrey as a first choice will drop down to those voters’ second choice candidates.
You can read the full press release from the Columbia Elections Board below.
After serious deliberation, the Columbia Elections Board has ruled to disqualify GSSC University Senator Candidate Jeffrey from the race effective immediately.
The Elections Board does not take this decision lightly but the highly inappropriate conduct of the candidate in question justified its severity. The Elections Board was very explicit before and throughout the elections cycle that while a candidate’s ideas and proposals may be scrutinized, their personal character and integrity were unquestionably off limits to any attacks or any damaging actions on the basis of mutual respect. The Elections Board made it clear at the Rules Meeting held on Monday, April 11th by stating in the presentation “Do not attack the character of other candidate in any way.” The Elections Packets distributed to all the candidates also explicitly states that “it is strictly prohibited to demean any other candidate.”
Despite these repeated warnings of not attacking the personal character of another candidate, Jeffrey during his live streamed debate publicly attacked his fellow candidate Ramond Curtis. Jeffrey’s introductory statement was as follows:
“Hi my name is Jeff, and I’m running for GSSC Senate. I’m someone that’s really committed to making the school better and I want the best for this school. If I didn’t think I was the best candidate for this position I’d step down. I’ve heard from Sean Ryan, next year’s chair of the Student Affairs committee that Ramond is crap.”
The last remark was not only a direct violation of the rules against attacks on personal character the Election Board has presented, but an extreme disregard for the integrity and fairness of the general election process.
Given the above reasons, the Elections Board affirms its decision to disqualify Jeffrey from the GSSC University Senator race.
Update, 1:02pm: Columbia College University Senator Sean Ryan submitted a statement to the Elections Board in response to Jeffrey’s comments at the debate. You can read it below:
“In the General Studies University Senate debate, a candidate inaccurately quoted me as having made a disparaging comment toward another candidate in a private conversation. I do not recall making any such comment, nor does that comment reflect my thoughts. I look forward to working with whomever wins the GS Senate election to build a stronger Columbia community for all students.”
Editor’s Note: This post has been edited to further protect the anonymity of the students mentioned.
Featured image via Columbia Facilities