Disqualified UH Hilo Student Candidates Asking Questions Regarding Unfair Election Process

On April 24, 2014 at least 7 of the 17 student candidates for UH Hilo student government were ‘disqualified’ by the UH Hilo Student Association Election Committee consisting of Yuri Zhuraw and Joyce Pulega Auau under the advice of Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano.

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 feel that we have been treated unfairly. We ran a campaign on a platform of reform and transparency at UH Hilo. We believe we are being falsely accused and unfairly treated as a result. Because Ellen Kusano and the Election Committee have been unwilling to answer questions previously from student candidates we will again ask these questions to UH Hilo, students, and to the public:


You claim 5 of us were disqualified for violating the following the election code:


Candidates and/or their supporters shall neither actively campaign nor allow campaign posters to be displayed within 200 feet of the polling area during the election on April 22 – April 23, 2014 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.

1a) Why don’t you give specifics as to how we violated the election code?
1b)  Why were no students running for office warned that they might be in possible violation of the election code?


The voting ended at 5pm on Wednesday.
2a) Where did the ballot box go at that time?
2b) Who had access to it?
2c) Did anybody have access to it alone?
2d) Where is it now?
2e) Have the votes been counted or handled in any other way?
2f) If the results have been counted what is the result?
2g) Were the votes counted before or after you decided to disqualify the UHHSA candidates?


As far as we know, you disqualified 7 of the 17 candidates running for UHHSA office, 2 of whom were running unopposed.

3a) Was anybody else outside of the 7 people disqualified?
3b) If so for what reason?


One student candidate, Ardena Saarinen, was disqualified the day after the election. She had been confirmed via email on April 10, 2014 as a candidate prior to her notice of disqualification. The Election Committee claims that was that she had not completed her initial paperwork correctly. She claims to have filled out her paperwork correctly and asked for what specific paperwork she did not fill out properly and you do not respond to her.
4a) Why are you not responding to her?
4b) Do you think it is fair to disqualify a confirmed candidate the day after the election after they were previously confirmed?


From the UHHSA Election Code:


Voting shall be done by secret ballot.

5a) In past years at UH Hilo students were given a voting booth of sorts to vote in private. Why weren’t students given a private place to vote this year?
5b) Why were election officials verbally influencing students to vote by telling the students they could not reference their private handouts?
5c) Why did election officials encourage students that they “don’t have to mark a vote for a candidate who is uncontested because it doesn’t matter?”


In the election packet it states,

 ‘Consider making hand outs or stickers for campaigning on the VOTING days.’

6a) Why were students being told they could not reference the handout?
6b) Why did Yuri Zhuraw physically grab the handout out of students’ hands?
6c) Why did Ellen Kusano tell Chantelle Masreghy that Chanetelle was acting ‘unethically’ by handing out handouts over 200ft from the poll on election day?
6d) Why did Ellen Kusano advise the election committee initially to tell student voters they could not use the election handout? When candidates objected to Mrs. Kusano arbitrary rule she went to the election table and said (recording available),

‘’If a student comes with one of these[candidate hand outs] 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.’
– UHHSA Adviser Ellen Kusano

6e) Why did Ellen Kusano advise the UHHSA election committee to tell students something that is not in the election code as if it is a rule?


You disqualified one person, Melinda Alles, who was running unopposed for Treasurer. Melinda was on our handout but wasn’t actively campaigning.
7a) Why did you disqualify her?


We believe a hostile working environment is being created by Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano. We believe we are being treated unfairly by the UHHSA Election Committee consisting of Yuri Zhuraw and Joyce Pulega Auau under the advice of Ellen Kusano.

In conclusion we ask:

1) that the votes be counted fairly,
2) that the Election Committee be censured for their unfair behavior,
3) that Ellen Kusano be censured for fostering a hostile and unfair institutional environment,
4) that Ellen Kusano not be allowed to have influence over students in the future,
5) that the legitimate UHHSA be allowed to take office May 1, 2014,
6) that the new UHHSA have the right to:
a) hire a professional student government adviser,
b) hire a professional financial clerk,
c) be allowed autonomy from Ellen Kusano and Campus Center.

Respectfully submitted,


Disqualified UH Hilo Student Candidates:
Glenn Aanstoos          Ryu Kakazu
Josh Boranian             Chantelle Mashreghy
Jarod Campbell           Ardena Saarinen


5 Responses

  1. Well, according to the 30ish words in that citation, it looks as if you violated the code by campaigning too close to the polling area. I don’t think it can get much clearer or more concise than that. Since all seven of the candidates who were disqualified were on the fliers being distributed in the area, that’s probably the reason. Speaking of which, if the seven candidates are upset, why are there only six signatures on the complaint? And then the group complaint suggests that all seven were disqualified for the same reason, but this series of questions claims it was only five. I’m not the best at math, but this doesn’t add up. Political math, am I right?

    1) Voting ended at 7:00 on Wednesday. Polling is moved to the dorm cafeteria after 4:30 in order to allow more students to vote.

    2) Results probably won’t be announced until this whole disqualification issue is resolved. It seems irresponsible to announce a winner and then disqualify him/her, and similarly irresponsible to announce a winner and then say “Nevermind, so-and-so won instead.”
    3) Generally, business like qualification or lack thereof is between the student and the university. Making a complaint you filed public does not mean that you have the right to access everyone else’s information.

    5) Jarod’s statement says that students were asked not to use the fliers, rather than ordered not to use them, and if someone does not want to vote for someone who is running unopposed, why would the election officials force them? Does the number of votes matter for an uncontested candidate? Are they going to lose to Mickey Mouse? Remember that no write-in candidates are supposed to be considered, so… yeah, voting for them doesn’t matter, as their victory is inevitable so long as they at least vote for themselves.

    6) As mentioned in Jarod’s letter, they were asked to discard the handouts, rather than told that they could not reference them. If an individual official misunderstood their instructions it’s an issue with them, not with the entire process. As for Ms. Kusano telling Chantelle she was acting “unethically,” that sounds an awful lot like the warning referenced in (1b) which was previously stated as never being given.

    7) “Candidates and/or their supporters” means that if someone was campaigning on Melinda’s behalf then she has to suffer the same repercussions as the campaigner. However, based on the general lack of interest in the position, she, along with Josh, could simply apply for the position and be in office without any further drama.

    As for the rest, how is it proposed that the ballots be counted fairly? Allow the press to observe? Done. Allow the candidates to observe? That just sounds like a bad idea. The candidates should not be anywhere near the ballot box except to cast their own ballots, as any other time is asking for the election to be tampered with unfairly. It currently appears that the only thing preventing the legitimate (albeit significantly reduced) UHHSA from taking office on May 1, 2014 is the ongoing debacle surrounding a few kids whining that their heavy-handed campaign tactics, widely discussed on campus throughout the voting period, resulted in their disqualification from an extracurricular activity. Finally, despite attending this university for multiple semesters, the only hostility I’ve seen has been that encompassed by the antics of Ryu who, as a matter of public record, already resigned from the position for which he’s running.

    I’ll concede that it’s a brilliant idea to allow the UHHSA to hire their own adviser and financial clerk. It implies that they’ll also be allowed to fire them if they dislike the advice of the “professional” adviser, and I’m sure that the UH Hilo students will be thrilled to have their fees spent in this manner.

    • Not sure who the anonymous [“M.V.”] coward is, but (regarding students being “thrilled”) s/he appears rather uninformed.

      Most students would be thrilled just to know where the hell *their* money is going.

      Being able to actually have *control* and final say over *how* their money is spent? Icing on the cake—professional adviser or not.

      Queen Ellen would probably shudder at the thought of it.

      Only reprobates would seriously object to it.

      Just saying.

      • So much anger! When simply opting to remain somewhat anonymous (using only my initials) results in such venom, what is the incentive for me to present you with the opportunity to dig up my personal details? They’re easy enough to find in this day and age without providing people with a virtual roadmap.

        Now, do we really thing that a student association without any oversight will provide proper feedback on how funds are handled? Or that the students will have any say once the council majority consists of a herd of sheep following their almighty shepherd? I rather suspect that we’ll end up with something more like the U.S. senate, where neither party will give the public the time of day once they’re in power. In the mean time all we’re really talking about is replacing one shepherd with another, one who’s already buckled under the weight of the task he’s so humbly pursuing once again.

        Realistically, if we want to give the students control over their money we should do away with UHHSA and the associated fees altogether, putting that money back into their pockets in order to cover books, rent, or food. I don’t expect that such an association would dissolve itself, though, so perhaps the focus here should be setting up a petition to dissolve the student association.

        Finally, while I appreciate the compliment, I must apologize. I had intended the remarks to which you refer to be facetious, but I don’t seem to have mastered the fine art of projecting sarcasm through the internet. Rest assured, though, that I never take anything too seriously.

  2. PS: To the aggrieved students?

    One of my mentors, long ago, once gave me some advice; I’ll pass it on:

    “Don’t take prisoners and don’t settle out of court.”

    Here’s my email address.


    Get in touch. Let’s talk.

    When I was Editor (summer of 2002, before Queen Ellen became apoplectic over the possibility of losing control of the students and their newspaper), I had clearly established an environment of inclusiveness and “ohana” that made *everybody* who walked through the newspaper office door feel welcome.


    Exchange students. Local students. Samoan, Japanese, Chinese and African (Zimbabwe, etc) students.

    Back then, one of the buzz words that was being flogged and touted by the administration like some sociological panacea or magic bullet [pay no attention to the man behind the curtain] was “diversity.”

    My thoughts, then? And now?

    Diversity without unity is just another word for division. Divided-ness.

    Queen Ellen uses that divided-ness to her advantage.

    Right now, there is no unity on campus. I can see that and hear it, even without having set foot on campus in years.

    It’s time for a change.

    No, really. Change.

    Seize the moment.

    Truth, and history, will be on your side.


    Brian Ansorge

  3. “… under the advice of Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano?”

    What a joke. Seriously. That would be, possibly … regrettable. She obviously doesn’t know (or care) too much about qualifications. You know, rules and such.

    Let me explain.

    It was back in 2002, when the same Ellen Kusano was “hot to trot” and couldn’t wait to get me to be the Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper—in spite of the fact I was *clearly* disqualified.

    Yes, that’s right. When she handed me the keys to the Ke Kalahea office, my GPA was a big, fat, ZERO point eight. You read that right. GPA = 0.8. Yet, Ms. “Follow the Rules” Kusano was practically stumbling over herself in her haste to get me in charge of the Ke Kalahea.

    That was until she found out I would be no puppet. Much to her chagrin, I took the bull by the horns—fully intending to make the newspaper a *real* newspaper and have it become something that the *students* would be proud of, actually making money and making waves.

    Ellen couldn’t care less about whether or not the newspaper actually made money. What she wanted was control. When she found out I was no puppet, but, in fact (editorially speaking), a “pit bull,” she couldn’t wait to get rid of me, citing “GPA” as the reason I was disqualified.

    Forget the fact that I had actually *raised* my GPA to near the acceptable 2.5, over the summer. Forget the fact that due process was flouted and the newspaper’s Charter & By-laws were ignored. What Ellen wants, Ellen gets.

    But, in this case, it was only because I didn’t feel like fighting. Not then. I should have said, “excuse me, but you have to post an announcement, two weeks in advance, with the agenda clearly indicating that the reason for the BSOP meeting is to determine and properly vote on my termination.”

    Instead, I politely handed the keys to Queen Ellen and walked away proud, knowing that, even though I was hired for some wrong reasons, I would have fulfilled and even exceeded the highest expectations for the newspaper.

    A *student* newspaper with clout? That, more than anything, scared Ellen. She’s a shill for the “status quo.”

    “Don’t rock the boat” is her (and most other administrators’) mantra.

    “Follow the rules [but only when it’s self-serving]” is her motto.

    Just ask *generations* of UH-H students. One graduate (a class or two ahead of me) was doing research (or *was* while working on his Ph.D. a few years back) when I tracked him down because of Campus Center issues I had heard he was familiar with.

    His response? “Oh, the ‘Empress!’ is she *still* there?”

    I could go on, but I don’t want to beat a dead horse.

    Uh, yes, I do, but I’ll save it for the Op-Ed page when I get the *alternative* student newspaper up and running when I get done, here, on the mainland.


    Ellen couldn’t say it if she was choking on it. If she did, those in the know would probably just roll their eyes.

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