Though the deadline for declaring candidacy in this year’s student elections is not until Friday, a prospective candidate for Student Association president already has lost more than half her available points for rule infractions.
Sabina Siddiqui was fined by the Joint Elections Committee for two separate rule violations, both involving passing out campaign materials before they received JEC approval. The violations, which involved distributing a campaign sticker and a platform sheet, occurred Jan. 28, and were reported by JEC members Tuesday.
Each violation carries a 15-point fine – and the JEC impounds the campaign paraphernalia in question. Candidates are required to submit a $50 deposit when they hand in their petitions of candidacy to cover any fines they incur. If a candidate accumulates more than 50 points in fines (a point is equal to one dollar), that candidate is removed from the ballot.
JEC Chair Terry Goddard said Siddiqui was notified of the 30-point fine Wednesday. She may appeal the fine until the close of business Monday.
Siddiqui said she will appeal the fines, adding that at the time the materials were handed out, she and her campaign staff were unaware they were breaking any rules.
“At that point it wasn’t illegal,” Siddiqui said. “We had the information on us and if people asked for it, we distributed it.”
Eileen Hren, who is serving as Siddiqui’s student counsel, said the appeal will cite procedural errors she believes the JEC made in the initial hearing on Siddiqui’s rule infractions.
In addition, Hren said that since the JEC charter declares all previous rules and charters null and void, the JEC cannot use the precedent set last year by Lewis v. JEC. That case allowed retroactive JEC fining by upholding fines imposed on then-SA presidential candidate Andrew Lewis for distributing campaign material in the Smith Center before he was a registered candidate.
Hren said the JEC rules and charter guarantee candidates the rights outlined for all students in GW’s Guide to Students Rights and Responsibilities. Hren contends that students are given the right to distribute pamphlets and information as long as they do not disrupt the normal functioning of the University.
“The JEC should have been more careful in drafting the charter and the rules,” Hren said. “But since Jan. 30, when the rules came out, we have followed every regulation and rule to the letter. All the allegations against Sabina were for instances occurring before Jan. 30.”