Damian-Martinez-Theis Campaign temporarily suspended for breaking election code

Statement from Elections Commissioner

For the second consecutive year, a pair of students desiring to campaign for Student Government President and Vice President will be barred from running due to rules enforced by the association.

Article 5 Section 3 of the association’s code states no member of the court may enter into an election cycle in which a student would carry out their tenure the year after their time as a member of the judicial branch. The presidential candidate of the disqualified ticket is currently a member of the court.

President Ben Griffith cited the code as reason for disqualifying the ticket, and said that the Executive Board had uploaded an incorrect document that did not include this section.

“The Executive Board and myself understand the mistake that was made and have accepted full responsibility,” Griffith told Hilltop Views via email. Griffith declined to mention the affected candidates.

Last election cycle, the court ruled that Jace DeLeon and Oliver Guerra could not run for President and Vice President due to a GPA requirement that the senate had approved earlier in the semester.

A ticket campaigning this year are current senators Josue Damian-Martinez running for President and Andi Theis running for Vice President. Elections commissioner Cynthia Teran temporarily suspended the campaign until April 14 at 11:59 p.m. for breaking an election code that prevents candidates from using mass communication to engage the student body. On Monday, the campaign sent a mass email to confirm endorsements. 

The other ticket is Big Event coordinator Joanna Ariola as a presidential candidate and former senator Leslie Rios as her running mate.

With the student government’s first year handling funding requests, along with February’s publication of the Open the Red Doors Manifesto, the tickets vying for positions in the association next year face intense demand to meet student’s concerns.

Damian-Martinez and Theis have weighed in on funding requests in their time as senators.

“We wished we had the information beforehand, rather than right at the beginning of the meeting because meetings would then take so long.” Damian-Martinez said the focus on funding requests led some senators to decide that they did not have to write legislation. He added that he initially felt like all he did as a senator was approve funding requests.

Damian Martinez mentioned support for a solution to funding request woes that President Griffith has proposed. The new system would involve organizations working in a separate House that looks over funding requests.

“The purpose of a senator is not to give orgs funding, your purpose is why you want to do these things and why you want to make campus better,” Theis said.“With the funding request process, a lot of times there were instances where we would approve a certain amount or decline and certain amount and later we would find out that when the ROC (Recognized Organizations Council) did funding, they had specific guidelines they followed… and we didn’t have that. So it was a lot of time figuring out how these things used to be done and how we could better utilize our money.”

Ariola discussed her role as an orientation coordinator when addressing communication with St. Edward’s administrators. Ariola mentioned the dip in enrollment became evident last summer.

“We saw it coming in,” Ariola said. “I don’t think we really understood what that meant and I think that’s something that probably could have been communicated better to us, even over the summer, in preparing us better for what was going to come.”

Damian-Martinez is a member of Monarchs on the Hilltop, a student organization that contributed to the Open the Red Doors manifesto. Both him and Ariola said the manifesto aids as a template for clear communication with university administration.

“A good question to ask is ‘Why was that necessary for the students to take the initiative first?’” Ariola said. “The university should have you know — asked.”

Ariola’s position in SGA is assistant director for the yearly service day, The BIG Event, in which she applauded the current administration for their organizing efforts.

“Ben and Amanda did a really great job of making sure that we felt included. The whole committee… We felt we were a part of SGA,” Ariola said. “It brought the service aspect back to SGA.”

Both tickets brainstormed ways they could convince senators to complete the entire year they were elected for, as multiple senators have quit this academic year.

Rios mentioned hosting more retreats for just senators to try to alleviate the problem and create an easier transition into the association than she experienced. As a freshman, Rios moved from her spot on the associate member program to a full-fledged senator after vacant seats arose.

“I had no idea what I was doing. Nobody took the time to explain to me, these are the codes, learn them. I knew nothing coming in and I think that’s something that really hurt me,” Rios said. “At the end of the year, I felt like a failure because I didn’t pass anything meaningful.”

The Damian-Martinez-Theis ticket also suggested having senator-only retreats. Theis mentioned that in her time as a senator, she wanted to promote large-scale change on campus, causing her to lose sight of legislation centered on topics like sustainability that she cares about. Legislation she hopes to get passed this year includes adding sustainability-oriented signs in campus bathrooms.

Last year, students voted on referendums regarding whether or not to add solar panels on the library and whether or not to increase the student pay rate; both passed. No referendums will be listed on this year’s ballot.

Voting will be electronic through CollegiateLink from April 16-20. A debate will be held April 18 in Mabee Ballrooms at 6:30 p.m.