Madison Gardner and running mate Antonio Guevara were reinstated as Student Government presidential candidates Monday and will drop their reinstatement lawsuit against the University.
Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly released a statement Monday stating that her office has suspended the association provision in the SG Election Code and will review it in the coming months. Reagins-Lilly said the decision to reinstate Gardner and Guevara was made based upon advice from the University’s outside legal counsel. She said the Office of the Dean of Students will work with SG in the coming months to clarify the association clause that disqualified Gardner and Guevara.
The Election Supervisory Board and the SG Judicial Court disqualified Gardner and Guevara on Feb. 22 for associating their campaign with Carissa Kelley, a candidate for a position within the University Unions, via promotional materials such as their fliers, videos and website. The Election Code states no association between candidates of any kind will be tolerated and violation of the provision can result in a disqualification.
Gardner said he was excited to hear he and Guevara were back in the race and will be dropping the suit against the University. He said being reinstated was the only provision he asked for in the lawsuit, nothing else.
“I think it will be tough moving forward because whenever we go speak or campaign the first thing people are going to think is, ‘Oh, they’re the ones that filed a lawsuit,’” Gardner said. “But we just want to be positive, tell our story to as many students as possible and let the students decide who they want to be their next president and vice president.”
Gardner said he is ready to begin campaigning again and that he and Guevara may start speaking at the Greek houses this afternoon.
Charles Maddox, Election Supervisory Board Chair Emeritus, said the Board has to enforce the decision made by the University. Maddox said he stands by the Election Code the way it is written and Gardner did not say he felt his constitutional rights were being violated in his first hearing with the Board.
“We didn’t know that was going to be his defense until the lawsuit was filed,” Maddox said.
Maddox said even if Gardner brought it up in his request for appeal to the SG Judicial Court, the court does not have the right to determine whether a provision is constitutional or not.
“Even though you sue and you are automatically back on the ballot, ultimately you are still up for elections and the students still vote,” Maddox said. “They could still say they don’t want you in office. It’s up for the students to decide.”
The UT Student Government presidential elections will occur next week on March 28 and 29 with three candidates on the ballot – John Lawler, Thor Lund and Madison Gardner.