United Voices for ASU candidates receive three infraction points

Elections commissioner says social media posts were a threat to ASU and President Michael Crow

All seven Undergraduate Student Government Senate candidates in the United Voices for ASU coalition received three infraction points on their campaigns after a complaint was filed against their members' social media activity. 

Judah Waxelbaum, chairman of the Arizona Federation of College Republicans and a junior studying political science, filed the complaint on April 5 citing the Arizona Board of Regents code of conduct that says behavior that could "present a risk or danger to the health, safety or security" of ABOR, the University, students or University property is prohibited. 

"The Elections Department has reasonable evidence to believe that the United Voices for ASU Senatorial Ticket has raised reasonable concern for the risk or danger of the University community due to their tweets related to ASU President Micheal Crow," the decision says. 

The decision, made by Elections Commissioner Carla Naranjo, recognizes that students have a right to free speech and political expression but says the social media posts contained in the complaint are threatening toward Crow.

The decision points out that USG is a nonpartisan governing body for all undergraduate students, something that the coalition's interactions on social media make hard to believe they would carry out, said Waxelbaum. 

Waxelbaum said he was "disturbed" by the content in social media posts by members of the coalition which include profane language toward Crow, the University and suggest yelling to uphold their platform. The complaint also highlights tweets that depict violent actions toward federal presidential candidates. 

"They don't seem interested in listening to those who they disagree with," Waxelbaum said. "And they're endorsed by community members and organizations that have no interest in civil dialogue."

United Voices for ASU's four-point platform demands refunds from the University for in-person tuition and housing, curved grading, free internet and transparency surrounding their response to COVID-19.

A week into campaigning, endorsements and coalitions are forming around candidates. The United Voices for ASU coalition and all of the candidates running have been endorsed by political student clubs like ASU Young Democratic Socialists of America, Students for Socialism and MECHA de ASU

Other groups rallying around an issue like Students for Justice in Palestine and ASU No Mas Muertes have also endorsed the coalition. Clubs representing cultural groups like the African Students' Association, the Association of Latino Professionals for America and El Concilio have all voiced their support. 

The coalition wants to represent what they call a minority at the University by building grassroots relationships and "representing the interests of all."

"When all of us stand together with unity, we have more chances of seeing a drastic change," said Alexia Isais, senatorial candidate for The College, member of United Voices and a sophomore studying political science. 

While the coalition admits that they're proud of their resilience, other political clubs on campus haven't been too sure of their motives. 

"I'm concerned that students might vote on the platform of reform due to COVID-19," said President of ASU College Libertarians, David Howman, a graduate student studying justice studies. "It's a talking point, not a real plan for unity."

Howman voiced that he was worried that those running with the coalition were in "pursuit of their own ideologies" and would set a "double-edged precedent" if people with partisan ideas joined a nonpartisan organization. 

But United Voices members believe that other senatorial candidates had been more political than them. Members of the coalition said that their endorsements only represent niche groups of people who say they have never been heard before by USG or the University administration and might have a chance now. 

"We're the underdogs in this election," said Bridget Saidu, senatorial candidate for The College, member of United Voices and sophomore studying philosophy and justice studies. 

Another member added that the argument that the group was too political had no real grounds. 

"USG is not apolitical, it's nonpartisan," said Daniel Lopez, senatorial candidate for The College, member of United Voices and junior studying philosophy and political science. "It's for helping students," he said, with everything from housing, food insecurity to discrimination, all things that he said are inherently political. 

A campaign for USG is effectively suspended when the candidate receives nine infraction points. 

"The level of punishment is unfortunate," Waxelbaum said. "The commissioner needs to take a serious closer look."

Campaigning began on March 30 and will end on April 14 when voting begins. Students will vote digitally on April 14 and 15 and results will be announced on April 16.

Editor's Note: Alexia Isais worked as an opinion columnist for The State Press in 2019. She was not involved in the reporting or editing of this story.


Reach the reporter at pjhanse1@asu.edu and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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