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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Union officials aren’t denying allegations that they broke the Student Code in their campaign to place the UCommons referendum on the Feb. 8 ballot.

Instead, they’re denying that the Student Code applies to them at all.

On Feb. 7, Adam Horowitz, a Student Congress member, filed a lawsuit claiming Andrew Phillips, chairman of the Board of Elections, and Student Body President Hogan Medlin broke the Student Code by allowing a place on the ballot for a referendum to renovate the Union’s bottom floor.

Tony Patterson, senior associate director of student life and activities, said Phillips informed him that the Union’s posting of campaign materials and petitioning in academic buildings would be violations for a student or student organization.

Patterson said Phillips “did his job” and came forward with the information.

“Title VI defines a campaign as including referenda and there is a specific clause preventing referenda groups from posting information outside the Union,” Phillips said.

But Patterson said the Union ultimately used its own interpretation.

Don Luse, director of the Union, said his staff considered Phillips’ warning, but ultimately went ahead with plans to place campaign materials on University buildings and petition within academic buildings.

Those officials and Horowitz have acknowledged that the events of this year will require a clarification of Title VI of the Code, which deals with elections.

But Horowitz said the Union’s interpretation was wrong.

“My biggest issue was that if you look at the Union’s campaign, it was breaking almost any campaign law within Title VI,” Horowitz said, adding that he sued Medlin and Phillips rather than the Union because the two are bound by the Code to enforce election law.

Phillips said the Code only has jurisdiction over students and student organizations — and provides enough clarification to bring a suit against Phillips and Medlin.

Horowitz and his three fellow plaintiffs filed a subpoena calling for communications between the board and the Department of Housing and Residential Education, Medlin and the Union regarding the election. Also included in the subpoena are minutes of the Union Board of Directors meetings and internal Union e-mails.

The results of the vote have not been released because of an injunction issued by Jessica Womack, chief justice of the Student Supreme Court.

Womack said the complaints are currently on hold while the court waits for evidence to be gathered and submitted by the Student Union.

Phillips said he recognizes the Code is ambiguous but said he thinks it is unlikely that the University will allow student government control over aspects of administrative units in the future.

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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