Alleged IFC Bribes Call 2016 Elections Into Question

A.S. Elections Board Calls For New Vote On Entire Ballot

Gwendolyn Wu / Campus Beat Reporter

Gwendolyn Wu
Campus Beat Reporter

This article was updated on April 26. It was originally published as “Campus United, Independents Win A.S. Executive Seats” on April 22.

Elections Board announced Tuesday, April 26 that the Inter-Fraternity Council bribed campus fraternities to vote in A.S. elections by offering philanthropy grants to chapters with high voter turnout. A letter from Elections Board to campus media states that the board found certain votes to be worth more than others, which skewed both general turnout and results for all candidates and ballot measures.

The board was notified of the IFC decision in an “unsolicited letter” from the council’s chair, according to the Elections Board statement.

Of the executive officer-elects, three are or were previously affiliated with Greek life. President-elect Hechler belongs to Zeta Beta Tau and served as the Inter-Fraternity Council’s Vice President of Communications from February 2015 to February 2016. External Vice President of Local Affairs-elect Minoiefar is an active member of Sigma Pi, and Interval Vice President-elect Jordan was formerly affiliated with Alpha Phi. 

As of early Tuesday afternoon, Minoiefar, presidential candidate Alejandra Melgoza and IVP candidate Nushi Yapabandara had responded to The Bottom Line’s requests for comments from this year’s executive candidates on a potential re-vote. Minoiefar declined to comment.

“As a presidential candidate I am disappointed in my colleagues whom I thought ran a fair and clean election,” Melgoza wrote in an email to The Bottom Line. “I hope that administration addresses these concerns and that they are investigated extensively. Students deserve to have elected officials that run the association with integrity and honesty.”

Yapabandara shared that while she did not know how this would affect elections going forward, she wants the senate, Elections Board and the community to make a firm decision and restore justice on campus.

“We are a strongly political campus and I am discouraged to hear that we have engaged in such behaviors although we are highly regarded for our political feats,” Yapabandara wrote in an email to The Bottom Line. “This should have never even crossed our minds for a split second, considering Gauchos are trusting us with their votes and tuition money.”

Given its findings, Elections Board has called for a revote and urges students to approach the A.S. Senate at its Wednesday meeting with their concerns. The board is nonpartisan and has stated that it wishes to honor the input of students who voted without incentive.

UPDATE April 26, 8:49 p.m.

Elections Board Chair Avery Chamberlain said the board will submit its recommendation directly to Senate as well. In an email to The Bottom Line, he stated that Elections Board was unsure if all of IFC sanctioned the funding, but knew that the IFC president approved of the funding. “[I]t seems this deal was offered to every fraternity in IFC,” he wrote. “The exact effect it had is unmeasurable and could potentially be very significant.”

The University of California Regental Policy on Student Governments states that “chancellors have authority to recognize or discontinue recognition of student governmental entities as official student governments.” Should A.S. Senate approve of the incoming government and Chancellor Henry Yang not approve, the chancellor has the power to discontinue recognition of A.S.

However, while some are outraged, others criticized the outing of IFC on social media, stating that the funds went to philanthropic grants, rather than personal use. Students also voiced concerns about donuts, cookies and t-shirts also given out to students by political parties campaigning on campus.

UPDATE April 22, 2:37 p.m.:

All student services have been reaffirmed as of April 22. The Daily Nexus, Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS), UCSB/MTD Superticket Bus Program and Student Health Support fees all passed.

The entire Campus United executive candidate slate claimed victories last night in the 2016 Associated Students Elections, with additional party candidates taking two-thirds of the senate. Two independent candidates will hold the positions of Internal Vice President (IVP) and Student Advocate General (SAG).

ORIGINAL published April 22, 10:37 p.m:

Students gathered in the University Center Hub around 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 to view the final elections results. Third-year political science major and Off-Campus Senator Austin Hechler won the presidency, while third-year biopsychology major Neha Nayak was named External Vice President for Statewide Affairs (EVPSA) and third-year history of public policy major and College of Letters & Science Senator Ashcon Minoiefar claimed EVP for Local Affairs (EVPLA).

Second-year political science and history of public policy double major Natalie Jordan, a former off-campus senator, ran her IVP campaign independently of a party and will serve as chair of the 2016-17 A.S. Senate. Third-year feminist studies and political science double major Josephine Ampaw will become the first Black female SAG, a nonpartisan position at the head of the Office of the Student Advocate. Just over 32 percent of undergraduates — 6,167 students — voted in this year’s election, according to A.S. Elections Board.

“I’m feeling stoked. I’m really grateful for all the work the whole party has put in,” Hechler said, after the results were announced. “It’s not me; it’s definitely a whole party credit thing. Couldn’t be more grateful.”

Jordan expressed her gratitude in a comment to The Bottom Line reflecting on her campaign.

“I’m thrilled,” Jordan said. “I’m very humbled by the entire experience in general, though. I gained a lot of good friends and information.”

Of the 25 senators elected, 16 ran with Campus United, two with the Peer Action Coalition and seven with The Response. A 25th transfer senator will be elected for the 2017 A.S. Elections, per a constitutional amendment approved this week by a landslide 94-percent margin.

At the end of the night, CU party members chanted, “A campus united, will never be divided,” as they gathered in a large circle. Members of The Response and PAC parties then formed their own circle, performing various chants of empowerment.

This is the first year Elections Board has used the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, which allows voters to rank their choices for each position in order of preference. To be elected, a candidate must meet the Droop quota (number of votes cast divided by one more than the number of seats available, plus one).

Some A.S. and student services fees were also reaffirmed this year. Students overwhelmingly voted to reaffirm almost every fee on the ballot, including those for Queer Commission, the Educational Opportunity Program, Isla Vista Arts, Food Bank, Finance Board and the Department of Public Worms.

A measure by the United States Student Association (USSA) to instate a new fee passed by the narrowest margin, winning only 53 percent of the vote when it needed a simple majority. A.S. Program Board and Food Bank each surpassed the higher 60-percent minimum required to secure their own new fees.

The election results for certain lock-in fees and fee increases, such as the bus sticker reaffirmation and Daily Nexus fee increase, have yet to be released. This article will be updated as The Bottom Line receives more information.

TBL Isla Vista Beat Reporter Héctor Sánchez Castañeda contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that a transfer student senator will be elected this fall. However, a transfer senator will be elected for the 2017-2018 academic year.

UPDATE: This article previously appeared with the headline “IFC Bribes Call 2016 Elections Into Question.”

Gwendolyn Wu is a third year double majoring in history and sociology, and is the 2016-2017 Executive Content Editor of The Bottom Line. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley and attended Cleveland High School, and is interested in pursuing journalism as a career. When not poring over history books, she's watching Cutthroat Kitchen and mentoring first year students.