Editor's note: We are continually updating this story as more information is made available.
Update (7:01 p.m.): J.B. Bird, director of media relations at UT, said the Dean of Students is currently “evaluating the student election and constitutional information.”
Original post: The Student Government Supreme Court has invalidated the results of last week’s executive alliance election and ordered a new election to be held to decide who will be the new the student body president and vice president.
The ruling also said all votes cast in the previous election would not be considered. All executive alliances that qualified during the previous period will also be allowed to run, which means the new election will consist of seven total executive alliance campaigns.
However, the Dean of Students must give approval before the previous election results are completely invalidated and a new election is held. Colton Becker, who was announced as student body president-elect on Friday, said he spoke with Soncia Reagins-Lilly, the Dean of Students, who said her office is currently looking into the SG Supreme Court decision.
The decision, released this afternoon, followed an appeal of a moratorium on campaigning issued by the Election Supervisory Board against the Guneez-Hannah executive alliance campaign Thursday. Thursday was the last day of the campaign period. A hearing was held Saturday before the SG Supreme Court to discuss the merits of the appeal.
Guneez Ibrahim and Hannah McMorris filed the appeal and said the EST sanction was unfair and robbed them of crucial time to campaign.
"So many students I saw were so disappointed by what happened," Ibrahim said. "But this (appeal) energized them, so it's really exciting to have this second chance. It was really surprising."
Nutrition senior Becker said he is encouraging everyone involved with the campaign to stay calm for the moment. But considering how much time has passed, Becker said the announcement is frustrating because his campaign team had already begun preparing for the upcoming transition.
“It was very shocking,” Becker said. “We’ve already started to get to work. I’m particularly concerned about the campus climate, like what a new voting period would even look like for the community, but that being said, we’re just going to (wait) and see what happens.”
The moratorium was originally issued as punishment for a Class B violation by the Guneez-Hannah campaign for “deceptive campaign practices.”
The ESB came to its decision based off of “discriminatory language upon a social media site,” according to the opinion it issued with the sanction. The ESB also referenced a video the campaign put out to address the social media posts. ESB said the video does not align with the rest of their official social media campaign activities.
ESB chair Jennifer Valdez said Friday the social media activity the decision was based off of is a single “like” by the official Guneez-Hannah campaign Twitter. Since the decision was issued, the account has unliked the tweet.
“Hey kids vote @GuneezHannah for UT pres and vp!” the post by @sassysamosa said. “These two genuine WoC have a mission to cater to marginalized and tokenized voices and we’re tired of straight white zionist men in power!!!”
In its decision, the SG Supreme Court ruled that the actions by the Guneez-Hannah campaign were not “knowingly deceptive” as declared by the ESB. As a result, the SG Supreme Court reversed the Class B violation given to the Guneez-Hannah campaign.
“Finding the certification of the results for the executive alliance race to be invalid due to the wrongful moratorium placed on the Guneez Ibrahim/Hannah McMorris campaign, this Court holds the certification of the results of the executive alliance race to be unconstitutional,” the ruling said. “With the authority granted to this Court in the Student Government Constitution, this Court declares the certification of the results for the executive alliance race to be null and void.”
The SG Supreme Court wrote that the tweet itself was simply a statement of support for the campaign by a UT student and liking the tweet does not necessarily mean that the campaign endorse every part of the message within.
“In showing gratitude for a voter’s support, a campaign need not adopt every part of the voter’s agenda as its own agenda,” the ruling said. “It is clear based on the wording of the tweet that the statement of the campaign’s platform is separate from the personal importance to the writer of reducing the number of straight white Zionist men in power.”
The court also said campaign activities on voting days contribute substantially to voter turnout and support.
“As such, the Guneez-Hannah campaign now has no opportunity to attempt to garner votes during the last day of voting, as it otherwise would have had without a campaigning moratorium,” the ruling said. “The campaign was wrongfully deprived of the right to campaign during the crucial last voting day and could not take any action to rally and motivate its supporters, agents, and workers to maximize its electoral turnout.”