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UCommons defense responds

Defense denies all but two complaints

Despite a full day of voting, the Board of Elections was prohibited from announcing the unofficial results of the UCommons referendum Tuesday night.

The injunction to delay the release of the results was issued by the Student Supreme Court at the request of four students.

The students complained that Student Union officials violated multiple election laws under the Student Code while petitioning for the referendum that, if passed, would raise student fees by $8 per semester for 30 years to fund a renovation to the Union’s bottom floor.

The students filing the complaint said Student Body President Hogan Medlin and Andrew Phillips, the board’s chairman, failed in their duties to address alleged campaign violations.

“My main purpose for the injunction was to make sure the results don’t bias anything that happened,” said Congress member Adam Horowitz, one of the four plaintiffs in the complaint to delay results.

“I think it’s important that we show breaking the rules can’t be allowed here.”

Horowitz said his main reason for the complaint was that the placement of many advertisements for UCommons were in violation of the Code.

Despite complaints from students, Union officials said their actions did not constitute a breach of the Code.

“It’s based on your interpretation of Title VI of the Student Code,” said Tyler Mills, president of the Carolina Union Activities Board. “The Union was acting in its best interest. I don’t think that was a violation of campaign policy.”

Mills said many of the campaign regulations in the Code apply to student body president elections rather than petitions for referenda.

“I hope that the results would stand based on the current lack of clarity in the Student Code,” said Tony Patterson, senior associate director of student life and activities at the Union.

Mills said UCommons supporters collected signatures in campus dining halls, a practice students said violated the Student Code.

“Collecting signatures in the dining hall is not a violation of the Student Code,” Mills said. “We had permission from dining services to get those names.”

But Patterson said some complaints had legitimacy. He said UCommons supporters may have violated the Code when they advertised on computer home pages.

“That was certainly unintentional. I honestly don’t recall putting a screen saver up on our computers, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” Patterson said.

Patterson also addressed controversial UCommons banners, which might have violated Code but have been left on exterior buildings anyway.

“Once they get up there, they’re not impossible to remove, but they take a lot longer to take down,” he said. “It’s a little more complicated to remove them.”

Horowitz said he filed the complaint because he feels it is important to have fair elections, adding that students would become apathetic and the election unrepresentative if campaigners succeed at breaking rules.

Phillips said the board could not determine when the election results would be announced.

Speaker Pro Tempore Alex Mills said the court’s injunction did not express any opinion as to whether UCommons will pass.

“At this point we’ll just have to wait and see until after they make a ruling,” he said.

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