On Tuesday, a Travis County judge issued a temporary restraining order against UT, postponing the elections for student body president and vice president for at least two weeks.
The decision came after former Student Government executive alliance candidates Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara sought legal action against the University. Last week, the Election Supervisory Board disqualified the candidates for associating with Student Events Center presidential candidate Carissa Kelley via promotional materials for their campaign. Gardner and Guevara claim that their disqualification violates their constitutional rights because association is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Gardner had ample opportunity through his previous involvement with SG to change parts of the election code he found objectionable. Of course, he never did. He even used some of its more obscure provisions to attack his opponents. However, soon after he was found guilty of violating the rules, he cried about it to anybody who would listen.
During the hearing, Gardner and Guevara’s attorney argued that holding the elections as scheduled would deprive them of the opportunity to put the title “student body president” or “student body vice president” on their resumes and would potentially inhibit Gardner’s ability to eventually run for president of the United States.
The lawsuit, Gardner v. The University of Texas at Austin and the Student Government of The University of Texas at Austin, is against everyone at UT, including administrators and students. It reflects poorly on the University, very poorly on SG and horribly on Gardner and Guevara.
Clearly, Gardner and Guevara are not used to not getting their way. Their decision to file suit affects not only them but the other four candidates seeking executive alliance positions, who have done nothing wrong. The two remaining tickets, John Lawler/Terrence Maas and Thor Lund/Wills Brown, now have to scramble to raise money to compete with the well-oiled Gardner machine, assuming Gardner and Guevara make it back on the ballot.
This also affects candidates vying for other positions, including The Daily Texan editor and SG University-wide representative, as the delay of the executive alliance election may accelerate the descent of voter turnout in recent years into the abyss.
When asked on Sunday what steps the campaign was prepared to take in light of their disqualification, Alex Jones, campaign manager for Gardner/Guevara, told The Daily Texan that a lawsuit was not off the table. He said their actions were protected by the First Amendment, and that regardless of what anyone at UT said about the code, “the Supreme Court does not have to agree with a bunch of 19 year olds and UT administrators.”
What Jones failed to consider was that the opinions of students very much matter. This was supposed to be an election. They wanted it to be a coronation.