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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
UH Hilo student CAS
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.
Student- University of Hawaii at Hilo
UH Hilo Election Complaint
April 24, 2014
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,
UH Hilo student
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.
UH Hilo Student
You can view their group complaint here: group ethics complaint