Student Association Senator speaks out against SA elections and demands transparency
Senator Aziz Al-Sulaiti asks for further analysis of the elections and the actions of SA’s PR Co-Chair
On the night of April 11, 2019, Syracuse University students rushed to complete their voting ballots on MySlice prior to the midnight deadline. This Student Association (SA) Election would determine the following year's President, Vice President, Comptroller, and SA Senators.
At 11:30PM, on SA's Instagram, it was announced that Comptroller Candidate Eduardo Gomez's campaign had been suspended due to a member of his campaign allegedly slandering the opposing candidate, Stacy Omosa. Within a few short minutes, SA had removed the post and shared the results of the Comptroller election. Omosa had beaten Gomez with 99 votes. Within the comments of the post, students were infuriated and confused. Many questioned the validity of Omosa's win, the last minute suspension of Gomez's campaign, and the trustworthiness of the counting system for votes.
As the comments continued to grow, the Public Relations Co-Chair began to respond to many of the comments. The individual then directed commenters to her personal Instagram where she had posted a video on her InstaStory, yelling and screaming at the commenters and voters,
To you b*tches out there that think I'm f*cking rigging this sh*t, go f*ck yourself! I swear to f*cking God, I'll fight all of you b*tches, you bum *ss b*tches. I swear to f*cking God. So go fuck yourselves, Stacy won by f*cking 99 votes, so go f*ck yourselves you dumb*ss b*tches.
As viewers began to watch her story, many also noted the story the Public Relations Co-Chair had shared that day, pointing out a Phi Sigma Sigma philanthropic event. She labeled the video as "White Nonsense".
The following morning on April 12, 2019, the Public Relations Co-Chair continued to respond to comments from the SA account. Many reported that they were not pleased with her actions or the way the election results were handled. Others, such as University Senator, Aziz Al-Sulaiti, have called for more transparency from SA as well as a thorough investigation of what occurred.
Senator Al-Sulaiti has given The Tab Syracuse permission to share the following statement in his name:
Senator Al-Sulaiti's Statement
Fellow Orange Friends:
Like many of you, I am confused and appalled by the recent conduct of the Student Association’s handling of the campus-wide elections; as well as, the behavior of one of its key officers, the Public Relations Co-Chair. I do not mean to sideline the newly elected officers’ win with this statement, but rather I plan to address the perception of mishandling campaign violations and the lack of transparency from the SA leadership team, coupled with the inappropriate and offensive remarks by the Public Relations Co-Chair on social media.
While I understand that campaign violations, especially on the last day of voting, can be messy and challenging to release key information to the student body in a timely manner, we elect our representatives to keep us informed and involved in the decision-making processes of the Association. The Student Association should be responsive to student questions and demands for more information, not after something went wrong, but throughout the whole year. Having served the Student Association in my capacity as the Chair of Judicial Review Board for almost two years, I am aware of the shady, political culture and how easy it can be to hide facts or to manipulate them to fit the narrative that favors SA’s leadership and their public branding. I demand that the Student Association release full reports to the student body (while maintaining students’ privacy and safety) regarding any and all campaign violations; as well as, a comprehensive explanation of the mechanisms in place to reach decisions on such violations.
As for the inappropriate and offensive remarks by the SA’s Public Relations Co-Chair, I watched and heard her comments with concern. The Public Relations Co-Chair has allegedly received death threats and hatred from others on social media for the suspension of one of the campaigns. I do not have enough information on this subject; however, if she did receive such threats to her life, I condemn and reject the hatred and the threats. However, this does not justify the behavior we have seen from this SA member. There are proper means and channels to address hateful comments and threats. I believe responding with hateful comments and threats is not the proper way to go about it. Being a student leader comes with a responsibility to conduct ourselves in a respectable manner, both in public and in private. I believe she has failed to meet the high standards of ethics and conduct we expect from our student leaders. This is an embarrassment to the Student Association and its mission to serve and represent all students.
Beyond the swearing and intimidation, she went further by labeling a philanthropic event by a Panhellenic Sorority—Phi Sigma Sigma— “white nonsense”. This comment further perpetuates a culture of divisiveness and disdain towards members of the Greek Community and the greater Syracuse University community. At a time in which our community faces many social challenges that demands from us to be more inclusive, cooperative and understanding, reducing a philanthropic event that enriches kids in poverty as “white nonsense” is an attack on our shared values as a Syracuse University Community. I reject that and I believe our student representatives need to better their conduct in future events.
I call upon the Student Association to review the campaign violations and the Public Relations Co-Chair’s actions on social media, and after such review has taken place, I ask the Student Association to then present this information to the student body, with special note to any measures they have taken to ensure this does not happen again.
Aziz Al-Sulaiti, University Senator