Sanction changes

The executive committee of the SGA voted to allow presidential candidate Kofi Mensah to keep up his campaign Facebook event after an emergency meeting March 21 at 9:45pm.The meeting was only regarding whether or not to include Facebook in the sanctions against Mensah, which ordered him to remove all campaign materials after alleged overspending. The sanctions were issued March 19, SGA Vice President Kate Ash said.”If the main reason for the sanction was how much I spent [on] my campaign materials in regards to [fliers], why then is my Facebook event, which has been free of charge to both candidates, called into question?” Mensah’s appeal stated.”I would understand if it was an ad that I had to pay for, but this is an event that is free and it costs me nothing,” Mensah said.When he first asked if Facebook was included in his sanction, SGA Chair of Elections Committee Katie Rifkin said it was not included but followed up later saying the committee had decided it was, he said.Mensah said he feels that if he were forced to take down his Facebook as his last piece of advertisement, the election would be unfair.”The fair nature of the elections in terms of advertisement will be lost, as I will have no other forms of material advertisement left,” Mensah said.Because of vague language in both Mensah’s sanction and SGA election rules and regulations, Chair of Academic Affairs Committee Stephen Hannaford said he felt it was unfair to force Mensah to take his Facebook down.The elections committee did not say he could not campaign, it said he had to remove all on-campus campaign materials, Ash said.”The debate came down to does the executive committee have the power to interpret the difference between campaigning and campaign materials,” she said.Sophomore Ben Mervis said he believes that a larger problem is the lack of clarity in the SGA election committee’s rules.”There are no stringent consequences laid down for those that violate the rules,” Mervis said. “Each case seems to take them by surprise and is handled with no relation to the past.””The appeal is [only] whether or not the Facebook event should count as campaign materials,” Ash said. “After we vote, this is the final decision.”However, Chair on the Committee on Legislative Action Mike Glynne brought up a status that Mensah had posted on his personal Facebook.”Sometimes you ask yourself, even though you don’t want, even though you want to be progressive in your thoughts and actions, you find yourself wondering, Is it because I am a person of color?” the status stated.When Glynne asked Mensah if he believed the elections committee made their decision based on the fact that he is a person of color, Mensah said no.”I am 100 percent sure in saying that they did not give me any sanctions because I am a student of color,” Mensah said.Furthermore, Mensah said he was confused as to why he was penalized for misleading language in the first place.Mensah’s campaign posters claimed that he had been an SGA senator for the past two years, leading students to think he was still on SGA although he was abroad last semester and was not a senator for that time, Ash said.However, Mensah said he felt the sanction was unfair because his opponent’s fliers were misleading and she received no penalty.”[Her poster] says ‘has dedicated the last three years to working with UVM students instead of exploring the options of studying abroad,'” Mensah said. “Claire Chervier and I are both juniors on campus. We have not [yet] studied for three years on campus.”Chair of Student Activities Committee Chervier said she was the person who submitted the complaint about Mensah’s fliers after a student argued with her about the language on his sign.”I, like you, did not realize what I put on my fliers was untrue because I understand that you didn’t purposely do it,” Chervier said. “If you were to submit a formal complaint I would be more than happy to take those down.”Mensah declined the offer.