Revealed: Here is all the evidence to suspect your new SU President broke campaign rules but avoided disqualification
SU Prez candidate Henry Hill was disqualified hours before voting closed, now claims have been made that election winner Emily Harrison also broke by-laws but did not face disqualification
After Henry Hill was kicked out of the SU presidential race on Friday for breaking campaigning rules, The Soton Tab can reveal that there are grounds to suspect President Elect Emily Harrison also broke the rules but avoided being disqualified.
Henry's violation was spending £10.70 over the allotted £20 budget for campaigning, as well as including "in association with the University of Southampton" in his campaign video. In correspondence with SUSU obtained by The Soton Tab, Henry gives evidence against some of the claims made against him as well as arguing that the process of his disqualification was "undemocratic".
Emily Harrison, who is the current VP Student Communities, was the eventual winner of the SUSU presidential election, avoiding disqualification despite claims she was also in breach of campaign by-laws.
The allegations include using her SUSU position and resources to campaign for her presidential election run as well as overspending the £20 budget allowed for campaigning.
Links between Emily's SUSU Facebook account and her personal one
In a Facebook live video promoting a Pride event posted to her official SUSU Facebook, which has over 2,500 Southampton students as Facebook friends, she tagged her personal Facebook account, from which she had been using to campaign for her election run.
When you click through to Emily's personal Facebook, her bio provides a link to both her manifesto and presidential campaign Facebook page. She also posted regular campaign updates on her timeline.
The SUSU election by-laws state: "A SUSU officer must not do anything in execution of their duties whilst engaged in campaigning, or engage in campaigning whilst doing anything in execution of their duties.
"A person who holds any office or position at SUSU may not in the course of an election campaign use any resources, material office space or anything else that is available to them only by virtue of their holding of that office or position."
The Soton Tab has not found any evidence that Emily previously tagged her personal Facebook in posts from her official SUSU account, aside from this one instance which took place during her presidential campaign.
The Soton Tab reached out to Emily Harrison, who then blocked our reporter who had messaged her on Facebook.
Four days later we reached out again, Emily responded this time, saying: "I was in contact with the Democracy Team throughout the elections period and adhered to any advice regarding rules and regulations throughout.
"Consequently, I do not believe I was in breach of the by-laws. Also, I did not make a complaint related to Henry Hill, or any other candidate, during the elections process and neither was I involved in the Senate vote to disqualify him.
"At no point during my campaign did I tag my campaign page in a post from my Sabbatical Officer Facebook account. In one instance when I did a live video about a work event from my work Facebook it tagged my personal Facebook account due to Facebook's automatic facial recognition tagging. This was brought to my attention during the elections, this feature was disabled immediately and no further action was taken."
The Soton Tab can confirm that the tag is in fact still on the post and linking to her personal profile.
Henry Hill claims that Emily Harrison, like him, overspent on her campaign budget
Henry Hill has also made allegations that Emily Harrison overspent on her campaign, a potential rule break that saw Henry disqualified from the election.
He claims that although Emily stayed within the £20 budget by spending £19.95 on 100 posters, there were "obviously more than 100 of her posters" around campus. And that she also technically printed off something that she ironed into her t-shirt, which would have taken her over the spending cap.
Emily said: "In regards to the second allegations, I did not over spend on my budget on either posters or t-shirts. The total cost of my posters was submitted, with a receipt, to democracy as per the process during the campaign period. In regards to a t-shirt print out, this was done at home by myself on t-shirt transfers which I already owned and therefore did not buy. I clarified that this was allowed with the Democracy Team prior to doing this."
Henry Hill calls SUSU's handling of his disqualification "undemocratic"
In an email sent to Henry, SUSU told him he had been disqualified because of a "significant campaign overspend which resulted in extensive social media reach that is otherwise extremely unlikely to have been possible." Henry's spend was £18.35 on flyers and £12.35 on boosting his viral campaign video on Facebook.
In response to the email detailing his disqualification, Henry claims his Facebook spending had little impact on the reach of his video, having achieved 98 per cent of its 8,000 total views before it was boosted.
Another major issue SUSU raised with Henry as a reason for his disqualification was his "lack of compliance to remove the 'in association with the University of Southampton'" from his campaign video, with SUSU taking objection to any appearance of endorsement by the uni towards a single candidate.
Henry claims that he replied instantly to an email telling him to take it down and that it took four days for SUSU to respond to him.
As SUSU outlined in their email to Henry, the Returning Officer found that Henry was in breach of by-laws, and then the disqualification of any candidate must be referred to a vote of Union Senate, who voted in favour of disqualifying Henry.
Henry was subsequently disqualified from the election at 10:40am on Friday morning, hours before the vote closed and the result was announced.
Replying to the email notifying him of his disqualification, Henry said: "I believe it is undemocratic for the candidate, myself, to not be able to state my case and counteract the evidence that the Returning Officer put forward on the Senate."
In his response, Henry requested for the Democracy Team to look into complaints of other candidates also overspending, to which he was encouraged to come back with evidence of other candidates rule breaking.
At the time of his disqualification, Wessex Scene reported Henry had been polling second in the SU presidential race.
When asked of Henry's disqualification, Emily Harrison replied: "It's an unfortunate outcome but it was not my decision to make."
Henry's campaign team commented on the situation in Facebook post, saying: "Henry has been used to make an example out of, largely due to his less traditional campaign which appealed to the masses, rather than the usual rhetoric repeated by all candidates in every election for the past four years.
"Apparently these by-laws are in place 'to ensure free and fair elections', according to a statement from Returning Officer, Sonya Enright. But it seems to me that these by-laws are in place to catch out candidates. They are able to use these technicalities to remove candidates that fail to fit into the cardboard-cutout shape of what the union believes to be a successful, safe, president.
"Any votes that had already been given to Henry were automatically transferred to the person's second vote, and although his name will remain on the online ballot, the candidate will be marked as withdrawn."
Henry's campaign team have also started a petition for an improved democratic process at the university, called #JusticeForHen. So far the petition has 410 signatures.
SUSU have been approached for comment but they have so far not responded.