Student body president candidates have not yet made the ballot, but accusations of misconduct have already emerged.
Candidates Rob Jones and Christy Lambden filed two joint complaints Monday morning with the Board of Elections against candidates Hetali Lodaya and Will Lindsey, accusing them of unfair campaign practices in violation of Title VI of the Student Code.
Senior Tim Longest, who is a columnist for the Daily Tar Heel, filed the complaints on behalf of Jones and Lambden.
Longest said he noticed violations firsthand and was approached by the plaintiffs with concerns.
“I’ve heard reports of violations, and it was in my interests and the interests of the student body to file the complaints,” Longest said.
Neither Lambden nor Jones would comment on the complaints. Each of the five student body president candidates must collect 1,250 campaign signatures by 5 p.m. today in order to be placed on the ballot.
The complaint against Lodaya states supporters were seen wearing campaign buttons during the signature gathering period, which began Jan. 22. It also identifies a sign supporting Lodaya’s candidacy that was in the Pit on Wednesday prior to an official certification, which will be granted today to those campaigns with enough signatures. The sign was later removed.
In addition, the complaints state that both candidates participated in illegal “dorm-storming” during non-designated times in residence halls on Jan. 25.
Lindsey’s campaign is also accused of sending emails to Greek organizations’ listservs before he declared his candidacy at the mandatory candidates’ meeting Jan. 22.
Lodaya said her campaign is working to address the issue by following guidelines as outlined by the Board of Elections.
“We understand there are questions and people are following procedure, and we’re just going to sit down with everyone to try to answer questions and find a solution,” she said.
Lindsey said the complaint was surprising, but that he is willing to work with the Board of Elections to address the issues, and he does not expect substantial results to emerge from the complaints.
Junior Kevin Claybren is the only candidate not affiliated with the complaints.
The Student Code establishes a points system by which candidates are punished for violations. The number of points is determined by the severity of the violation within set guidelines.
If a candidate receives 10 points, he or she is disqualified. Any campaign given a point or points will have its spending limit cut by five percent per point.
Shruthi Sundaram, chairwoman of the Board of Elections, said the filing of complaints shows candidates are holding each other accountable.
“Obviously, the board is not happy to hear about (the complaint),” Sundaram said.
“But on the other hand, I’m glad there are procedures that have been put in place to address issues like this.”
All of the candidates said they are confident they will qualify for the ballot, based on signatures collected so far.
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