ASU College Libertarians oppose Salem ticket in USGT election

The club is attempting to sue USGT over an event that USGT director Hanna Salem helped organize

The ASU College Libertarians announced that it will not support the executive ticket including an Undergraduate Student Government Tempe director due to the organization's ongoing pursuit of a lawsuit that includes her and her involvement in a USGT event.

Hanna Salem, the director of civic engagement for USGT, is running for USGT president on an executive ticket with Nikki Tran and Trey Leveque. 

Salem, a junior majoring in public service and public policy, oversaw the assignment of tables during the National Voter Registration Day event at the Student Pavilion on Sept. 25, 2018. The College Libertarians claim the club was discriminated against by being given a table outside the event, where it said it received less traffic. 

Read more: Campus libertarian club alleges discrimination by USGT

David Howman, president of the College Libertarians and a graduate student studying justice studies, explained that part of the organization's lawsuit asked that Salem step down from her current position in USGT. 

"Our request was for the court to direct Hanna Salem to step down from her position as Director of Civic Engagement and issue a formal apology to the ASU College Libertarians," Howman wrote in an email. "We don't think she's qualified for her current position, let alone the presidency." 

After the College Libertarians expressed its concerns of political discrimination to the USGT senate during a regular session meeting on Oct. 16, 2018, the senate responded by establishing a temporary committee to investigate the incident. 

The committee ultimately did not rule on whether the voter registration event organizers – Salem and then-Vice President of Policy John Gimenez – had acted in a biased manner. 

"This Committee cannot and does not attempt to find whether Gimenez or Salem acted in furtherance of a politically divisive or anti-Libertarian agenda," said the report released by the committee following its investigation. 

The College Libertarians previously spoke out against Salem when she was nominated for the position of vice president of policy. Howman submitted a letter on behalf of the club to be read at a USGT senate meeting that involved the deliberation of the candidates. 

The letter expressed concern over Salem's leadership and referenced the club's attempt to sue Salem for her alleged mishandling of the voter registration event. 

"I do remember the last time I attended a meeting and first delivered my statement about the way that my club, the ASU College Libertarians, was mistreated during the National Voter Registration Day event," Howman wrote in his letter to the senate. "It is with that in mind that I state my own personal opinion, as well as the joint opinion of the ASU College Libertarians as a whole, that Hanna Salem should not be confirmed for the position of vice president of policy."

The senate's nomination for the position of vice president of policy was ultimately given to Alex Baker over Salem. 

Despite the continued talk of a lawsuit, the College Libertarians have been unable to officially file one because of vacancies on the Associated Students of ASU Supreme Court. 

Nicole Morote, USGT senate president pro tem and a sophomore majoring in marketing, expressed concern over the absences on the ASU Supreme Court leading to a standstill in the judicial process. 

"The fact that they've been trying to have a lawsuit heard for months and have been unsuccessful because of USG staff shortages is rather frustrating, and therefore their patience is commendable," Morote, who is on a competing executive ticket for USGT, wrote in an email. "I have the utmost respect for USG and the ASU Supreme Court as institutions, and it's my hope that the justices will see fit to hear this case soon."

ASASU Supreme Court Justice Maxim Quint said that each campus is guaranteed one supreme court seat, and an additional seat is assigned on a rotational basis. This year, Tempe has the additional seat. 

While Tempe court seats are filled, with Quint being one of the justices from the Tempe campus, he said that seats remain unfilled for the Downtown Phoenix and Polytechnic campuses.

"Right now there does appear to be a lack of quorum," he said, and  added that the supreme court is looking for ways to fill its vacancies so it can continue hearing cases. 

As of now, the College Libertarians cannot officially file its lawsuit, and Salem is not officially a defendant in a court case. 

"I have never been formally included or informed on the lawsuit that the College Libertarians has filed against USGT," Salem wrote in an email. "If there is an investigation, I hope that it is a fair process and if something has been filed, I hope to be notified and given access to more information."

Despite the criticism from the College Libertarians, the Salem ticket has received 14 endorsements from ASU campus leaders and organizations, including the Women's Coalition

And in spite of the lawsuit, Salem still considers the event that started this clash a success. 

"We had 17 student groups participate and had over 300 students attend the event," Salem wrote in an email. "We found this to be one of the most successful (National Voter Registration Day) events USG has hosted." 

At this time, College Libertarians has not endorsed a particular candidate or ticket, and said it will continue to work on filing its lawsuit. 

"I'd like to be able to have the College Libertarians endorse a ticket, but we haven't come to a decision yet," Howman wrote in an email. "All that we know is that we do not support the Salem ticket in any way, shape or form because of the ethical concerns we have over Salem herself."


Reach the reporter at krquaran@asu.edu and follow @kiaraquaranta on Twitter. 

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