The complaints that postponed Student Body Elections
On the night of March 28, one day before the SA Election, the Joint Elections Committee postponed the election to April 5 and 6 due to an ongoing investigation of complaints against SA Presidential candidates, many of which involve individuals involved with SA Presidential campaigns.
It should be noted that these complaints were originally made public with no indication of veracity, and the complaint form includes a complainant signature indicating "the information contained herein is true, complete and accurate." It was due to this that The Rival made the decision to publish these documents when they were no longer publicly available on the JEC website.
To be clear, students heavily involved with one of the SA Presidential campaigns signed complaint forms alleging, among other things, harassment, intimidation, and misconduct by students involved in and associated with another SA Presidential campaign.
The Rival has decided to take the documents down after being informed by the JEC and many individuals named in the documents that the information may not have been not true, complete, or accurate, and we deeply regret publishing them without completely verifying their content.
Given the fact they are still unverified, The Rival has decided to avoid publishing the complaint documents unless they can be proven true. However, these complaints have been made public by the JEC again, with the addition of a disclaimer stating that the complaints are alleged and part of an ongoing investigation, a disclaimer that was not previously on the JEC site where the complaints were available.
We reached out to the candidates involved regarding these allegations. Lande Watson and her campaign issued the following statement:
"The false accusations made public were filed by an opposing campaign. We know that these statements are false and we plan to fight them with the truth. In the meantime, we want to get back to what this campaign is all about: the issues. We are focusing on the needs of everyday students."
Cole Ettingoff and his campaign issued the following:
"Bullying and harassment cannot be tolerated at GW."
The JEC has since made the unannounced decision to retroactively redact the names of students who are not the complainant or candidate from its public documents. These documents were originally published unredacted and named many students in their allegations.
As a result, there are many versions of these documents circulating among the student body, some redacted, some unredacted. Those originally named are understandably upset, and largely confused, by the developments in this controversy. The JEC told The Rival their decision to redact the documents was made with the advice of the CSE, and was due to "respect and concern for individuals' privacy."
A student named in the original version of the accusations who wished to remain anonymous due to the nature of these allegations, and who is not officially affiliated with either campaign, reached out to The Rival with comments on the documents as well. He mainly sought to refute them, telling us he believed the following:
"I cannot fully corroborate any of the statements I was named as a witness to, nor was I reached out to in an effort to fact-check before these complaints were submitted. Half of the statements I was named as witness to are distortions of the truth, the other half have no basis in fact."
"A student named as having chosen not to run was not muscled out by Lande or her team. Instead, the team identified a lack of time and energy, and choose to bow out before signature collection. No one was poached from that team to work on Lande's, and to my knowledge, no one who was working with that potential candidate is now working with Lande. Finally, no one was offered roles in the future administration as quid pro quo."
These events, on the eve of the student body elections, are certainly the "October Surprise" of GW student politics. This scandal is an unprecedented event in the history of otherwise mundane SA elections.
As these events and the student body elections carry on The Rival will continue to update this article.
Originally published by Courtney Buble on gw.therival.news on 3.28.17.