An ASU student libertarian club announced on Tuesday that they are filing a complaint against the Undergraduate Student Government at Tempe, claiming they were discriminated against during the National Voter Registration Day event.
Members of the ASU College Libertarians club said they were isolated from the main event and stuck in the heat, dust and noise near the Hayden Library construction site.
In response, USGT formed a committee to investigate the claims, though this committee and its details have not yet been fully established.
“It is really disappointing that USG would … discriminate against us in any way,” said David Howman, president of the ASU College Libertarians and graduate student studying justice studies.
Howman said his organization was put outside of the main event in a position where students were less inclined to visit their table. The National Voter Registration Day was held on Sept. 25 on the Tempe campus at the Student Pavilion and there were two groups of student organization tables at the event: one inside and one outside.
Howman said the club table's proximity to the Hayden Library construction site, which he described as constantly loud and dusty, impeded their ability to speak with students.
He added that due to the club's separation from the other groups in the Student Pavilion, some students may have been confused as to whether ASU College Libertarians was involved in the voter registration event at all.
“We were put outside where people would just walk by us in order to get to the main event,” Howman said.
Maxim Quint, a former USGT senator and a recently appointed ASU Supreme Court Justice, attended the voter registration event and said the conditions the College Libertarians were facing by sitting outside of the Student Pavilion were "...outside, in the heat, (noisy), it was dusty, it was bad."
Quint said he went inside to see what could be done about moving the College Libertarians inside, but that one of the organizers said they could not move the College Libertarians inside due to fire code.
“I mean I’m no fire marshal, but at this time there was such low attendance that the argument ‘we have too many people' … that's just not true,” Quint said.
As a result of his club's placement at the event, Howman presented a speech to the USGT Senate and executives at their biweekly meeting Tuesday.
“Approximately an hour into the NVRD event, I went inside the Student Pavilion to get a drink of water and I looked inside the Senita Ballroom. It was at this point that I noticed there were multiple empty tables in the ballroom that were not being used by any student groups," he said at the meeting. "The ASU College Libertarians would have cherished the opportunity to be moved to one of these tables, but no such effort was made."
Howman said he believed the placement of his organization outside was the result of political discrimination against the College Libertarians.
According to Howman, he, along with several other political organizations were sent an email on Sept. 4 asking them if they were planning to attend the voter registration event.
He said the College Libertarians must have been one of the first groups to respond, and that he was told the placement of the organizations would be determined by the timeliness of their response to the original email.
“I responded to that email within an hour. 51 minutes I think to be exact,” he said. “It just doesn’t seem likely to me at all that all of the other political groups except the two libertarian ones responded before me.”
No evidence has been brought forward to confirm or contradict this, hence the USGT committee.
If members of USGT were to be found guilty of political discrimination, Quint said the punishment would be either a letter of apology by those responsible, a promise for a guaranteed spot inside next year or perhaps a a strike on the record of certain USGT members. If USGT representatives receive three strikes, impeachment proceedings result.
After presenting his case at the most recent USGT meeting and expressing his frustration and intent to file a complaint, Howman said the USGT senators apologized.
“I appreciated that a lot of people in USGT seemed to be taking it seriously and saying that they were going to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
USGT Vice President of Policy John Gimenez said USGT represents students of many different political ideologies and that he hopes these issues will be resolved quickly.
“USGT is a nonpartisan organization, not only because we have to be one, but because we want to be a nonpartisan organization,” Gimenez said. "USGT understands the fundamental responsibility to foster a college campus environment that encourages engagement and dialogue. And that was the keystone part of our mission.”
Kiara Quaranta contributed to the reporting in this article.