April 27, 2004

Committee nixes Charming appeal

The Student Government Assembly voted seven to four Monday night to uphold sanctions imposed by the Election and Rules Committee (ERC) on This Charming Slate. The committee had decided to deduct $50 from the slate's $150 budget and remove 25 posters from its 150-poster quota.

The sanctions came after an April 13 Maroon article, "Despite restraint, SGFC spends over $240,000," mentioned that Mustafa Domaniç, a second-year in the College and This Charming Slate's presidential candidate, would be running for SG on a slate with P.J. Okocha and Sheera Talpaz. According to election rules, slates were not allowed to campaign before Monday, April 19, when the petitions were approved by the ERC.

According to Domaniç, he simply answered questions from a reporter regarding SGFC funding in his capacity as a board member of the Turkish Students' Association. He denied telling the article's author, Robert Katz, that he intended to run on an executive slate and said that Katz knew of his intentions because Katz had signed his petition earlier that day.

According to Kate Hui, a first-year in the College and the ERC chair, the committee viewed the mention in the article as an advertisement for the slate. The section of the article that mentions Domanic measures about eight inches in length, so the ERC members calculated how much an advertisement of similar size would cost in the Maroon and deducted that much from their campaign expenses. The committee members also decided to reduce the number of posters as a penalty.

"We felt it was more than fair to reduce their 150-poster quota," Hui said.

Hui said that whether or not the slate intentionally advertised, its name was irrelevant since the article was printed and the information disseminated. The rest of the College and Graduate Councils seemed to agree.

It seems like a very strong penalty to hand down, according to Raphael Satter, a third-year in the College and last year's Chairman of the Election and Rules Committee, "especially for something that wasn't malicious."

"It's a tough decision to make because everyone either criticizes you for not taking any action or for being too severe," Satter said. "It's always dangerous to penalize a slate—there's always the chance you'll be accused of favoritism. Any kind of fine like that opens them up to criticism."

According to Domaniç, the deduction in campaign expenses will prevent his slate from doing much more than putting posters up around campus.

"I think that they are right in that they want to regulate things more," he said, "but by doing this on the first day, they didn't make anything fair."

Domaniç also took issue with the fact that he could not appeal the decision earlier since the Assembly meeting was moved from Thursday until Monday. "It's already late in the campaign," he said, adding that his slate wanted to throw a party for the campaign. "So now we aren't going to do anything but poster."

Voting begins Monday, May 3, and ends Wednesday, May 5.