On April 2, 2015 we, University of Hawaii at Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) candidates, Jennifer Ruggles and Briki Cajandig, were disqualified to run for elected positions by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane-Lundin. We had been given permission to run for office by the UHHSA Election Committee and UHHSA Executive Board.
The news was a surprise to us because we are not only unable to run for the seats we were approved to run for, but we are no longer able to run for any UHHSA seats whatsoever; we are not allowed to run for positions we would have been otherwise eligible for, according to the decision of the Vice Chancellor. We received the notice from the Vice Chancellor 5 days before the election, long after our names had been listed on the official roster for this year’s election candidates.
We believe this decision violates our rights; we are appealing the decision with the Chancellor of UH Hilo (please see attached appeal). The 2015 election is taking place from April 7, 2015, and goes until today, Thursday, April 9 2015.
UHHSA has a history of questionable election practices as can be seen here: www.stopuhcorruption.com/uh-hilo.
We are happy to meet with any members of the press to discuss our unfortunate situation.
Mahalo – Disqualified UHHSA candidates, Jennifer Ruggles and Briki Cajandig
Aloha Elections Committee,
My name is Briki Cajandig and I am emailing you today because I believe my student rights have been violated. The Executive Board and Elections Committee of UHHSA requested to waive the requirements listed in our constitution due to my prior experience and successful contributions to the current senate. VCSA Gail Makuakane-London’s approval of the request was necessary for advancement as stated within our constitution, though this seems to be a requirement that only pertains to our campus. She has disapproved of the UHHSA Executive Board’s request to waive the UHHSA Constitution and this has led to the disqualification of my UHHSA candidacy for any position in the current elections. I find this to be a direct violation of my rights as a student given that both committees went through the proper, lengthy steps to waive this requirement; these steps are also documented within our constitution. I find that the VCSA’s decision directly negates the opinion of the Executive Committee and Executive Board. If both groups are willing to accept a student’s candidacy, the final decision should not be determined by one administrational figure. These rights should remain within the hands of the student body representatives. The VCSA announced her decision five days before elections, allowing no time for an alternate route of action. I believe that I should be allowed to run or considered as a qualified participant in this year’s Senate; listed below are the reasons why my eligibility is valid and justified.
- Up until March 13th I believed that my run for data director would be acknowledged and approved. I was under this impression because of the reassurance I was given by members of both the Executive Board and Elections Committee.
- 13 March 2015: Submitted all required documentation and 30+ student signatures for nomination as Data Director
- 18 March 2015: was emailed an invitation to attend the mandatory candidates meeting, implying that I was indeed a candidate in this year’s elections
- 19 March 2015: submitted additional documents (resume, UHHSA Senator duties and accomplishments, etc.) to accommodate the VCSA’s review of my credentials
- I was listed as the unopposed candidate for Data Director on the following website: http://hilo.hawaii.edu/vote/ . This post was taken down 2 April 2015.
- 2 April 2015: Elections Committee Chair Jarod Campbell emailed me stating, “I’m sorry to inform you that you have been deemed by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs as ineligible to run for the position that you applied for in the UHHSA elections. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. The Elections Committee has taken all steps that were necessary to attempt to allow you to run for your position.” The letter Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane-Lundin sent the elections committee is attached.
- On April 2nd, Jennifer Ruggles and I met with the Elections Committee and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane-Lundin, where we presented a written request to understand our disqualification and discuss options that contained the possibility of rectifying the situation. When an election committee member asked Mrs. Makuakane-Lundin why she denied the suspension, she stated, “I went to your own guidelines, your guidelines are real clear, your constitution is very clear, because if others knew they could run for office without the same criteria, they should have also been allowed to do that, people didn’t know that.” The constitution’s eligibility article is referred to eight times in the election packet, (pages 1, 3 ,4, 6, 7, and 8) and made publicly available on the UHHSA website. Other students were given the same opportunity as me in regards to availability and comprehension of the constitution. Myself and all other potential candidates had the same criteria available for reference; everything Jennifer and I were able to access was just as attainable for the rest of the students at UH Hilo. Mrs. Makuakane-Lundin’s reason that students would not be able to infer that the constitution had the potential to be waived is inaccurate; therefore, her decision to deny the suspension and disqualify my candidacy is unjust.
- The Data Director slot I had been campaigning for was one that had no other contestants besides me; running unopposed meant that no one else wanted to compete for the seat. It seems detrimental towards the progression of the elections process by denying the only candidate that had shown interest in the position.
In the UHHSA By-Laws the following statement describes the responsibilities of the Elections Committee; they fulfill their duties by being in charge of:
“Facilitating all aspects of the UHHSA elections which take place every year during the Spring semester, for promoting UHHSA throughout the entire year in order to ensure candidate competition for each of UHHSA’s senator positions, and for filling any open positions on the UHHSA senate as they may or may not become vacant throughout the year.” (Bold added).
On April 2nd, Mrs. Makuakane-Lundin stated, “You were given the wrong information and can appeal which would nullify the entire vote or the election which may mean the entire election would have to be postponed to another period.”
I understand that the voting period has already begun, and that it will more than likely proceed without my name on the ballot. What I am requesting though, is a reconsideration of my disqualification and a rectified chance to ensure my candidacy. I am respectfully calling for the Elections committee to perform its duty to ensure candidate competition, and to fill open UHHSA positions through appropriately amending the situation.
Thank you for your time and undivided attention.
My name is Jennifer Ruggles and I am writing to you because I believe I was unjustly disqualified for running in the student government election and should be able to run. Below is the sequence of events that brings this appeal to your attention:
- Article Two, Section B (4) b, of the UHHSA constitution states, “If applicants don’t meet the requirements for an open UHHSA executive position, the Executive Board reserves the right to request a suspension of Article Two, Section B, number 4 of the constitution with approval from the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.”
- On Tuesday, March 7th I told UHHSA Election Committee Chair, Jarod Campbell, in person that I was considering running for President and that if he did not believe I could run for President, I would run for CoBE Senator instead. Mr. Campbell responded that he believed the ¾ year experience I had in UHHSA sufficed for the requirement and that I could run for President.
- On March 8th, I sent a letter of application and resume to the chair of the elections committee so that the committee could consider my qualifications and determine if my ¾ year CSO experience and related job experience would justify a suspension the constitutional requirement of 1 year CSO experience.
- On March 8th, I received an email from Chair Jarod Campbell responding: “I have spoke with the elections committee about you running for president. We agreed that you should be allowed to run for an executive position. You will be considered along the list of all the other applicants. Mahalo, Jarod”
- I turned in my completed election packet including 35 student nominations, (20 of which were CoBE students), for the President position, on the deadline, March 13th.
- On March 18th I received an email from the the elections committee inviting me to the mandatory candidates meeting which I attended on March 19th.
- On March 26th I was told by Jarod Campbell and Ardena Saarinen that her candidacy was confirmed in an UHHSA Executive Committee meeting.
- I was listed on the following website as candidate for UHHSA president: http://hilo.hawaii.edu/vote/ and was removed on April 2, 2015.
- On April 2nd, Elections Committee Chair Jarod Campbell emailed me stating, “I’m sorry to inform you that you have been deemed by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs as ineligible to run for the position that you applied for in the UHHSA elections. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. The Elections Committee has taken all steps that were necessary to attempt to allow you to run for your position.” The letter
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane Lundin sent the elections committee is attached. Mrs. Makuakane Lundin’s letter refers to Article Two, Section B (4) b of the constitution that requires 1 year CSO experience for executive positions and does not acknowledge that this same article provides an exception to this rule if certain requirements are met. The elections committee met the requirements outlined in Article Two, Section B (4) b.
Up to March 13th I had to opportunity to run for CoBE senator and the sequence of events from March 7th to March 13th mislead me to believe I could run as President. On April 2nd, Briki Cajandig and I met with the Election Committee and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane Lundin and presented a written request to understand the disqualification and discuss options possibly remedy the situation. As Mrs. Makuakane Lundin addressed the elections committee she stated, “ when you reached out to me about the candidates and the Vice Chancellor Kelly Oaks and you asked us what did we think, and we went straight to your constitution and we also looked at your election packet, and we highlighted the statements about what you needed to perform…and if you
wanted to suspend the rules, you would have to follow that procedure and we left it at that” The Elections Committee performed their duties as required by the bylaws and followed every rule in the constitution related my candidacy. When an election committee member asked Mrs. Makuakane Lundin why she denied the suspension, she stated, “I went to your own guidelines, your guidelines are real clear, your constitution is very clear, because if others knew they could run for office without the same criteria, they should have also been allowed to do that, people didn’t know that.” The constitution’s eligibility article is referred to eight times in the election packet, (pages 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8) and made publicly available on the UHHSA website. Other students had same opportunity as me to know they could run for office without the same criteria. Mrs. Makuakane Lundin’s reason that others did not know they could suspend the constitution is inaccurate and therefore I believe I have been unjustly disqualified from the election.
Due to the sequence of events that occurred between March 7th and April 2nd, the fact that the constitution has been followed, and and the decision to disqualify me is unjust, I am hereby requesting to appeal Mrs. Makuakane Lundin’s decision.
I sincerely thank you for consideration and time.