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The Daily Tar Heel

Student contests law school election

Former presidential candidate Billy Piontek claims the elections committee failed to hold a fair, unbiased election.

On April 14, Piontek filed the complaint about the tactics of the winning write-in candidates. Piontek also objected to an email Jack Boger, dean of the law school, sent to the student body that Piontek said disparaged his platform.

Piontek was the only candidate on the ballot for Student Bar Association president when he won in March, but the elections committee called for a new election in April because of procedural errors. Piontek had broken Student Bar Association bylaws by campaigning via the class of 2017 listserv.

Write-in candidates won the April election for president and six other positions, but Piontek said in his motion for injunction they had not expressed interest in running until 24 hours prior.

According to an email from John Harris, elections committee chairman and president of the class of 2016, the April election had a record turnout. Nana Asante, the write-in presidential candidate, received 259 votes, and Piontek received 120.

The night before the election, Boger emailed the classes of 2016 and 2017 to advise against supporting the “25 by 2025” plan that Piontek and other candidates pushed for. The platform centered on elevating the law school’s U.S. News and World Report ranking into the top 25 schools by 2025.

In his email, Boger said the plan contradicted the school’s values and motto, “to be rather than to seem.”

Piontek had said the plan had the support of administration and faculty. He later apologized for the ambiguous language.

Piontek and Boger would not comment on the matter.

The write-in candidates, under the slogan of “Fresh and Honest Leadership,” distributed campaign materials the day before the election, which Piontek argued were presented as voting instructions. Flyers and messages written on whiteboards throughout the law school listed steps for how to vote for the write-in candidates.

Piontek also questioned the lack of response from these candidates when non-candidates posted disparaging comments to the campaign’s Facebook page.

Boger’s email was disallowed Monday, but the case will continue to trial to determine if the flyers and whiteboard messages constituted campaigning and if the candidates are responsible for the actions of third parties who support them.

Harris commended the Student Supreme Court’s dismissal of the allegations about Boger’s email.

“Whenever you’re in a situation where you’re setting up a potential confrontation between student government and administrative action, I think you’re probably overstepping your bounds and risk compromising your legitimacy,” Harris said in an email.

“That’s not to say that the administration is infallible, but there are other venues for addressing concerns with a particular action than in student government quasi-legal proceedings.”

Harris said the trial is expected to be held in the beginning of May, but the date has not yet been set.

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