On March 16, the SGA Election Commission held an infraction hearing after Election Commissioner Kamillah Ameen and Senator-at-Large Amanda Ford made allegations that members of the Green Action Fund (GAF) violated election policy during the 2023 SGA election.
In their ruling, the Election Commission found that GAF was in violation of student election and campaign policy, and they issued a disqualifying infraction. Per policy 4.e of the Allegations of Violations and Sanctions in the SGA election policy, this ruling would automatically disqualify the GAF initiative outlined in the 2023 ballot.
According to SGA’s website, the GAF Referendum on the 2023 ballot asked students to vote “yes” or “no” on the permanent renewal of the $5.68 student Green Action fee for the fall and spring semesters and the $2.65 fee for the summer semester.
Ameen wrote in an email to The Scribe that the disqualifaction of this ballot initiative would push the Green Action fee to sunset. “If this were the case, [GAF] can apply to reinstate their fee on next year’s ballot,” she wrote. “However, if not disqualified, the fee would become permanent if they have the votes.”
During the hearing, Ameen testified that MJ Johnson, vice chair of GAF, approached an official polling station in the University Center on March 6 where she asked Ameen about the language of the GAF referendum on the ballot.
Following their discussion, Ameen claimed that Johnson shouted “Vote yes on GAF” loudly enough for passersby to hear. “The election is supposed to be fair and votes are not to be obtained through persuasion,” she wrote in her Statement of Facts.
In their dissent, GAF claimed that the polling station policy is vague, and the only clear guidance they received while tabling in the University Center was to stay out of sight of any neighboring polling stations.
Cale Kennamer, assistant sustainability manager at UCCS, showed up in defense of GAF as a student representative, claiming that GAF made every “good faith attempt” to uphold ethical election practices while tabling.
“When we were told to move, we moved,” he said. “We were not within the sight of the polling station; that was the only clear guidance that we really got.”
Johnson also showed up in defense of GAF, claiming that she wasn’t aware she was violating election policy by shouting “Vote yes on GAF” near a polling station. “The only guidance I received that day was from Noelle San Souci, who came up to me to tell me I was not allowed to say that … [and] I responded by immediately changing my behavior,” Johnson said.
Johnson also claimed that she was not tabling on March 6, contrary to Ameen’s Statement of Facts. “The date referenced in the accusation … is not the day I was tabling,” she said.
Following this first infraction allegation, Ford stepped up and testified that GAF violated election policy by promoting their ballot initiative on social media and using university funds to pay for campaign materials (which included a table
As evidence, she provided a screenshot of a now-deleted post from GAF’s official Instagram account featuring all of their campaigning materials in addition to a “direct call for students to … ‘vote yes on GAF.’”
Ford also pointed out that the Instagram post featured an Office of Sustainability employee, and she expressed concern over whether this employee was paid to table for GAF in her Statement of Facts.
In their dissent, GAF claimed that the evidence cited by Ford was inconclusive. Kennamer said that the materials highlighted in the Instagram post were likely purchased in 2018 when GAF was last on the ballot. “These items were in our office prior to 2019 when I started,” he said.
Alyssa Naples, the Office of Sustainability’s student employee who was featured in the Instagram post, claimed that despite being an employee for the Office of Sustainability, the time she spent tabling for GAF was unpaid. “I performed this role purely as a student,” she said.
Following the hearing, Johnson said in a statement to The Scribe that GAF wants “to see a … clear learning process happen,” and see election policy more effectively communicated to the rest of campus in the future.
Senator of Sustainability Keenan Powell similarly wrote in an email statement to The Scribe that “it’s imperative to ensure the fairness of the elections, but it is difficult to do so when the guidelines that we are operating by have many sections that are vague and unclear.”
During their March 20 meeting, GAF discussed the Election Commission’s ruling and began crafting their appeal to the disqualifying infraction. According to Senator-at-Large and GAF chair Dennis Molina, GAF was given a deadline of 5 p.m. on March 21 to submit this appeal.
Molina wrote in a text message to The Scribe that GAF submitted their appeal before the 5 p.m. deadline and are currently awaiting a response.