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Thursday, May 30, 2024
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UB Council Student Representative candidates barred from running on advocacy

Ahead of the election, applicants were instructed not to promote themselves as student advocates

The Student Engagement office in 150 SU.
The Student Engagement office in 150 SU.

UPDATE: On Thursday, April 24, Thomas Vane provided The Spectrum with a copy of the Election Rules and Regulations for the Student Representative position. Part II of that document contains section D. 7. A., the section Vane cited, which states that applicants may not "convey false information pertaining to the election, other applicants, or themselves in any way, shape, or form."

UB Council Student Representative candidates can’t include advocacy initiatives in their official platforms after a UB election official told candidates that such proposals amounted to “providing false information” about the election. 

The new prohibition represents a marked change from previous years, when most candidates’ platforms focused on advocacy.

Last year, current Student Representative Alika Turton campaigned on improving on-campus disability services, bus wait times and better meal plans. Other candidates that year said they would advocate for mental health resources, DEI initiatives, more scholarships for students, stricter measures to address climate change and more.

Instead of having a platform, candidates are allowed to have a biography that tells voters why they are qualified to be the student representative.

All three candidates — Turton, Cameron Kiner and Jack Walsh — received an email from Student Engagement Assistant Director Thomas Vane last week that informed them of violations to “Section D. 7. A.,” despite “explicit instruction” given at a mandatory meeting attended by all of the candidates.

According to Vane’s email, section D. 7. A. states that “no applicant may: convey false information pertaining to the election, other applicants, or themselves in any way, shape, or form.” The email goes on to say that candidates violated the policy by describing the council representative as a “student advocate” and “confusing voters on the responsibilities of the position.” Candidates “found responsible for continued violation” will be referred to Student Conduct for “review and sanctioning.” 

Vane’s email did not state what policy or document included “Section D. 7. A.” 

Identical language exists in the undergraduate Student Association’s (SA) “Election Rules and Regulations,” but the University Council Student Representative isn’t an SA position. The Spectrum couldn’t find the policy containing “Section D. 7. A.” Vane didn’t respond to a request for clarification. 

“Heading into the voting process for the 2024-25 UB Council Student Representative, Student Engagement felt it was important to clarify — both for applicants and student voters — the roles and responsibilities of the position,” Vane wrote in an email to The Spectrum. “The UB Council Student Representative is strictly an advisory position, serving as a voting member of the UB Council, while also convening the Council of Advocacy & Leadership.”

Vane said candidates may use their biographies to describe their qualifying experiences.

“The biography may include topics such as academic accomplishments, campus involvement, and other experiences that are applicable to the role, such as facilitation, public speaking & presentation skills, and timely and thorough communication skills,” Vane wrote.

Voting began on UBLinked Monday morning and will conclude Wednesday, April 24, at 11:59 p.m.

Alisha Allison is an assistant news editor and can be reached at alisha.allison@ubspectrum.com

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