ASI candidate Edward Thurber disqualified from presidential race

Edward Thurber speaks during the ASI presidential debate on March 18, 2022. The ASI student court voted to disqualify Thurber from the ASI presidential election citing nine election violations. (Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)

Associated Student Inc. (ASI) senators announced during the senate meeting that candidate Edward Thurber was disqualified from the 2022-2023 ASI presidential race on March 23.

Sen. Alison Garibay informed the senate that Alex C. Walker, ASI election commissioner, presented the ASI student court with 12 election violations made by Thurber. After a 4 hour, 30 minute discussion, the court ruled in favor of nine of the violations, Garibay said. 

Prior to the discussion, both ASI president D’Aungillique Jackson and senator for the College of Arts and Humanities Aidan Garaygordobil recused themselves from the discussion.

The student court unanimously voted on disqualifying Thurber from the 2022-2023 ASI presidential election.

According to Garibay, the investigation into the campaign violation began Monday night following an anonymous tip to Walker. 

After discussing the evidence presented to it, the student court found Thurber guilty of slander and defamation of character – including comments directed toward ASI presidential opponents Jackson and Garaygordobil, defamation of organization, five social media violations and illegal production and distribution of campaign material, according to Garibay.

Garibay also informed the senate that the anonymous person who alerted ASI of the initial campaign violation received backlash for coming forward with the information. 

“The anonymous complaint did receive slight backlash from filing it, and in the bylaws and policies every candidate is responsible for their supporters’ actions. So, even though he was unaware of what this person had received, he is still responsible for those actions brought against the complaint,” Garibay said.

According to Garibay, Thurber said that the social media violations were a result of him not being aware of the bylaws and policies during the preliminary court hearing.

During the preliminary student court trial, Garibay said Thurber was seen wearing a campaign T-shirt, which the student court cited as being illegally produced and distributed.

Thurber will still be on the ASI presidential ballot. However, he is unable to continue campaigning per ASI presidential campaign rules following his disqualification. 

Thurber said he found the announcement of his disqualification as regrettable and misinformed, noting that the student court has yet to release the report detailing in-depth the allegations levied against him.

“I would like to state that the student court, at this time, has not delivered their report. So any information until this point can’t be confirmed as they may have adjusted some points from what they told me previously,” Thurber said.

“There are a number of specific details to this case which are significant, and the omissions of some or all of these greatly affect public perception and the legal ramifications of the ruling and the appeals process,” he added.

Thurber can appeal the decision once the report is released to the public, which is expected to take five days, according to ASI director of operations James Martinez. 

If Thurber appeals the decision, Carolyn Coon, vice president of student affairs, would have to decide to either uphold or deny the decision of the student court.

Upholding the student court decision, disqualifying Thurber, would require a special election for the remaining two ASI presidential candidates, D’Aungillique Jackson and Aidan Garaygordobil. 

If the ruling is denied by Coon, the current election would continue, counting all the casted ballots as normal with no need for a special election.

Garibay also encouraged the ASI senate to approve the special election as a contingency that the student court ruling is upheld.

 “This is also to ensure that a president will be installed this cohort in June. We also want to avoid the executive vice president stepping in as acting president and senate secretary as acting executive vice president until late September or early October until this is resolved,” Garibay said.

“We feel that it is fair and necessary for students to still have their voices heard because it’s not fair that if he is taken out of the election, or if he’s still here and students are still voting for him, those votes could be null and void. That is not fair,” she said.

Following the discussion, the ASI senate voted in favor of the special election. Garaygordobil abstained from the vote. Jackson did not vote, as the current ASI president cannot vote in senate roll call votes.

If the student court’s ruling is upheld, the special election is expected to take place prior to the end of the spring 2022 semester.

CORRECTION March 25, 2022:

In a previous version of this article, it was written, “Both ASI presidential candidates Jackson and Garaygordobil abstained from the vote.” It should say, “Garaygordobil abstained from the vote. Jackson did not vote, as the current ASI president cannot vote in senate roll call votes.

Current ASI senators vote in a roll call vote. The current ASI president cannot vote during a roll call vote.

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