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UH Hilo Students File Ethics Complaint Against UHSA Election Committee

A group of seven University of Hawaii Hilo students have filed a group ethics complaint against the University of Hawaii Student Association Election Committee alleging the university has an institutional environment that fosters unfair practices.

These students have filed an ethics complaint against the UH Hilo Election Committee.

These students have filed an ethics complaint against the UH Hilo Election Committee.


We, students of UH Hilo have been wrongfully discriminated against by the University of Hawaii Student Association Election Committee consisting of Yuri Zhuraw and Joyce Pulega Auau under the advice of Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano. We were informed on Thursday, April 24, 2014 that the 7 of us running for student government have been ‘disqualified’ for violating the Election Code. No specifics were given, no warnings, no appeal process, no response. This is an example of an institutional environment that fosters unfair practices.

Numerous complaints were made against the election committee and the unfair advice of Ellen Kusano (see individual complaints below). One student had a piece of paper grabbed from his hands by an election official. Another student with a disability was told he could not use a piece of paper with endorsed candidates, became discouraged, and did not vote. Another student was disqualified to run for office the day after the election, after she had been confirmed as a candidate weeks prior. UH Hilo students deserve better. We are the shareholders of the university and we call for UH Hilo to be fair, open, and transparent.


We call for the UH Hilo Student Association Election Committee to rescind their decision of ‘disqualification.’ We call for an open, fair, and transparent vote count. We call for a censure of Ellen Kusano, and ask that she be removed from any position where she has influence over students. We call for UHHSA to select and pay for a professional student government adviser and clerk and allow student government autonomy.


UH Hilo student candidates:

Glenn Aanstoos          Ryu Kakazu
Josh Boranian             Chantelle Mashregry
Jarod Campbell           Ardena Saarinen

Election Complaints:

UHHSA Election Complaint

April 25, 2014

At 9:49pm on April 24, 2014 I received a notification from UHHSA stating that I was disqualified from the campaign.

I filled out all of the paperwork that I was given in the election packet.

In the packet it states ‘candidates would be notified of eligibility by April 11.’

I received an eligibility confirmation on April 10.

In the packet it states, ‘Failure to attend mandatory meeting would be disqualified if not provided a alternate.’ Ryu Kakazu attended the meeting for me as my alternate and as my paperwork reflected, recorded the meeting for me, and I then listened to that recording.

I feel that my disqualification is outrageous and deceptive practice of the organization where they tell us their philosophy is fair open and honest is certainly questionable and I do not feel this is fair treatment. I feel like the UHHSA Election Committee changed the rules as they wanted.

Ardena Saarinen

UH Student



Election Complaint

April 25, 2014

On 11am Wednesday, April 24, 2014 I went to vote in the student government elections. I had a paper with me with the names of the people I wanted to vote for. I was told at the table that I could not use the paper. I have a disability that limits my short term memory. I left the table discouraged. My caretaker, Stephen Paulmier approached the table and told them that I had a disability and should be allowed to use my paper to vote. The election official agreed that I could use the paper. By that time I was discouraged and left without voting. I hope the election process can be improved in the future for disabled people.

Thank you,

Keola Benjamin

UH Student




Re: Election Complaint

April 24, 2014

Hello, my name is Joshua Boranian and I am running for the senator seat of the CAFNRM. Over the past two days I was actively campaigning. Spending meager amounts of money to print my ideals I was willing to work for and my name on a small piece of paper to hand out to students. Not just passing out paper but asking for a minute to explain my platform and if they agreed I expressed the importance of voting for me. I was shocked to learn that they were turning students away from the voting table for holding this piece of paper, or straight snatching the paper out of students hands under the claim that this was unethical campaigning. How is that unethical campaigning? In fact, on the last page of the election packet I received from UHHSA says to “consider making handouts or stickers for campaigning on the voting days.” I feel that not only I was being discouraged from participating in a democratic process but the student body was too.  Many students complained to me about their voting experience ranging from no privacy, no signage, being told to throw away the paper before voting, having the paper taken away from them forcefully, etc. What I want to know is why the workers of the voting table were following these rules and who handed them these guidelines? I feel student rights were being violated on multiple levels and now distrust me and the organization I am trying to be elected into. Whoever is in charge needs to express why they felt this was the right thing to do and apologize. I hope that this distrust that has developed doesn’t continue as it will only hinder student and student government relations.

Thank you for your time to review my concerns.


Joshua Boranian

UH Hilo Student College of Agriculture



Formal Election Complaint UHHSA

April 24, 2014

I, Ryu Kakazu, hereby make a formal complaint to the UH Hilo Student Association Election Committee, The UH Hilo Student Association, Campus Center, and the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs office.I called the UHHSA office today, Thursday, April 24th, at 9:21am, the day after the UHHSA elections, and was told by Johan that the ballot box location was confidential. Johan went on to say that only the two members of the UHHSA Election Committee has access to the ballot box. Johan told me that he got his information from Yuri, who is on the Election Committee. I asked to speak to Yuri and Yuri refused to speak with me. I told Johan that I would like to make a formal complaint about the lack of transparency with the election process. From actions demonstrated throughout the UHHSA election process over the past two days I do not have confidence that the ballots will remain untampered. I request that the location of ballot box be made public, that its security is verified, and that observers be allowed to participate in the counting process.


Ryu Kakazu
UH Hilo student CAS


Election Complaint
April 24, 2014

At around 2:30pm on Tuesday, April 22 at the election area I was told by the people working at the election table that I would have to put my endorsement ticket away. They told me that I wasn’t able to look at it. I was shocked that I was told this like I don’t have the right to access my own private property. I have friends who were told they were not able to access their endorsement list while voting and they became discouraged and never ended up voting. The next day I witnessed Ellen Kusano telling the people working at the election table that, ‘If a student comes with one of these [endorsement tickets] please ask them if they will throw it away because it is improper in the voting area, if they don’t want to they don’t have to.’ I was surprised to hear her advising UHHSA members to knowingly discourage students to do something that is within their rights.

Thank you,
Jarod Campbell

Student- University of Hawaii at Hilo



UH Hilo Election Complaint
April 24, 2014

Aloha UHHSA,

I am running for Senator at Large for UHHSA. I was told by Ellen Kusano on Wednesday, April 23, the second day of the UHHSA elections that it was unethical for me to hand out endorsement papers. I was outside of the voting area, employing my democratic rights. I was insulted that Mrs. Kusano, an authority figure on campus, called my legitimate actions unethical.

The same day I witnessed a student with a learning disability being told that he wasn’t able to have his endorsement ticket with him while voting, and that he would have to remember the names on the ticket away from the table, and then return to vote. The student suffers from a learning disability affecting his short term memory. He was embarrassed from having this highlighted and ultimately discouraged from voting.

Many people were discouraged from voting because of the aggressive attitude demonstrated by UHHSA senators working at the election table. It was clear that they were being instructed by Ellen Kusano.

Thank you for hearing my complaint,

Chantelle ​Mashreghy

UH Hilo student



Election Complaint

April 25, 2014

I went to vote in the UHHSA elections around 12:30pm on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. I had my endorsement list in my hand that was given to me by a trusted friend. I wanted to

vote for the people on the list. Yuri Zhuraw physically grabbed the paper from out of my hand and told me that there is no campaign material in the election area. I was not campaigning nor do I consider the endorsement ticket ‘campaign material.’ I felt assaulted. I told Yuri that I thought it was disrespectful that he had done that. He could

have simply told me something without taking my property. I hope in the future the UHHSA election process could be run with more respect for students.


Nathan Clark

UH Hilo Student


You can view their group complaint here: group ethics complaint

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9 Responses

  1. Rich:

    You are extremely articulate and (to me it seems equally obvious) bright.

    I really would have loved having you on Ke Kalahea’s staff. I’m not like some people on campus; I love being challenged by people who are more intelligent and more knowledgable than I.

    Sounds like you have moved on from the incestuous “pond” that UH-H had become.

    I’m not jealous. Not one bit.

    Campus Center has enough of *that* sort of thing.

    A hui hou.


    • Hey Brian… thanks for the kind and supportive words. I actually tried to write for the staff twice but people like Tiffany and Ellen made sure that wasn’t happening. I had kind of a unique situation at the UH. I was actually being tried in court for working over a guy I caught sleeping with my wife while I was attending school. People like Tiffany and a couple of overzealous folks from the prosecutor’s office actually made things very difficult for me at the university those last few years, but I managed to hang on and get my degree regardless. I’m currently getting ready to start graduate school on the Mainland. I have a feeling you and I are like-minded and I think we would have got along well if we’d worked together. Hey… who knows what the future holds. May be that we do some work together yet. Stay in touch.

      With warm regards,

      Rich Gomez

  2. I attended UH Hilo from 2010 until completion of my BA in 2013. In the 3 years I was there I witnessed all manner of abuses of power and misguided conduct on the part of Ellen Kusano. The paperwork for the majority of student activities crosses her desk and it is apparent that she takes advantage of this situation by subjectively filtering through the paperwork and discriminating against some individuals while bolstering the chances for others.

    Fortunately I had bigger fish to fry those three years and didn’t have the time to deal with, or give very much thought to her unfair and small minded practices.

    My advice to these young students is this: Pick your battles. The world is full of backward and spiteful underachievers like Ellen. They simmer and stew in their own inadequacies and (mostly imagined) slights from others until one day they nestle into a little inconsequential job that rationalizes their rather inconsequential existence. From there they follow a personal agenda steeped in bias, racism, unfounded dislike… what have you, until one day it all catches up with them and they end up down on Bayfront at the pavilion with individuals of similar intelligence and capabilities. (Tiffany Edward’s-Hunt comes to mind.)

    While these students may be disappointed with this current matter concerning the elections, it is important to remember that UH Hilo is an infinitesimally small pond teeming with an overabundance of large brown frogs (no racial slur intended… but hey, if the shoe fits…). You young people… finish up your educations and move on to larger and larger, less stagnant ponds. There is a big and exciting world out there with limitless opportunity. Get educated, start families, get good jobs. On your paid holidays you can take the family for a picnic down at bayfront… Ellen can watch you enjoying life from her domicile at the pavilion.

    Rich Gomez (class of 2013)

  3. To stay current on the UH Hilo election debacle please see: http://www.uhhilowithaloha.com

  4. “I was shocked that I was told this like I don’t have the right to access my own private property.”

    You must not get out much, Jarod, or else you would realize that there are LOTS of areas where you can’t access your personal property. At the theater, for example, you aren’t allowed to use your camcorder and are discouraged from using your cell phone there and in restaurants. Most students are prohibited from accessing their phones, computers, notes, textbooks, and so forth during exams, and I am not aware of any formal complaints against such restrictions. Also, have you tried driving your car through the mall? What right do they have to tell me I can’t use my car to get from Zippy’s to Sear’s faster?

  5. Ellen probably wants to either make sure her cronies get in, or leave many positions vacant so they can appoint her cronies. Then when UHHSA needs to spend thousands of dollars on an event or performance, she can make sure that her own friends and family get hired with no problem.

  6. Thanks for standing up fellow UHH students! There is no excuse for this type of behavior in what is intended as a “democratic” process that is ultimately meant to benefit the students of UH Hilo. Perhaps Ellen needs to take a step back and look objectively at her behavior. Hardly the way to conduct herself as the professional I originally thought she was. Very disappointing, Ellen.

    • This sort of “jack boot” tactics from, uh, certain administrators (I won’t mention the Campus Center Director by name) has been going on for years.

      And, yes, there *are* people like “M.V.” (anonymous cowards) who would appear to be—at least tacitly—wholeheartedly backing the sort of administrative thuggery that has become de rigueur.

      • Some of us realize that unpopular opinions posted on the internet can have real-life repercussions. Freedom of expression applies to all parties, including those with the power to retaliate for expressing such opinions. But isn’t it funny how only people who disagree with you are “anonymous cowards?”

        And no, I don’t support “thuggery,” but rather offer an alternate perspective on a series of grievances which we exclusively hear from one side, with the language and feigned outrage of one individual herding the rest along to appear to have more substantial backing. The truth of the matter is that a lot of people were upset about the campaign tactics employed by Ryu’s ad hoc party, and even in the short time I was at the ballot box to vote I overheard two people complain. Is it remarkable, then, that someone filed a complaint? A real grievance, rather than the retaliatory ones filed after action had already been taken on the presumable original ones? Based on the dates of the ones published here we know that Ryu and his cronies didn’t bother to make their complaints when they thought they were winning, no, it was only after they received the repercussions from the duly filed complaints that they decided to act in such a manner.

        Mostly I’m just sorry that the other students were dragged into the whole mess, particularly the seventh member of the “party,” who I understand never gave these six permission to campaign on her behalf, but due to either the way the rules or complaints are worded ended up taking the fall.

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