Seeking to correct a wrong

With all the recent rumors and gossip surrounding the Student Government elections and our team, we wanted to share our story and address the issue of our team’s disqualification. We selected around 40 students representing all communities from across campus to be in a group photo to reflect our mission to bring students together. Three weeks later, one of the students, Carissa Kelley, became a candidate for the president of the Student Events Center. She did not intend to run when the photo was taken, and we were not even aware that she was going to run until weeks later. We had no contact with her during the campaign, and neither of us publicly supported each other in any way outside of her participation in our photo. At the time of the photo, and even after becoming aware of Kelley’s intent to run for SEC President, we never felt that we were in violation of the election code because not only did the Election Supervisory Board approve our media — including our group picture — but the clause the ESB convicted us of violating is under the SG-specific election code that led us to believe that this clause only applied to associating with SG candidates.

After the disqualification ruling by the ESB, we tried to appeal to the UT judicial court on the grounds that the specific code only applies to SG candidates and that our alleged violation did not warrant a disqualification. The four-member judicial court voted to not hear our case and denied us our right to voice our concerns regarding the ESB’s ruling. Given the fact that we were denied our appeal, we chose to meet with the Dean of Students’ representatives who oversee SG. After meeting with them, we realized we had very limited options moving forward. We filed one last appeal to the judicial court based on procedural errors and were again denied before being heard.

At that point, we had the options of bowing out of the race or pursuing legal action in hopes of getting back on the ballot. We are passionate about this University and this campaign really means a lot to us.

We understand that many people may criticize our recent actions or question why we are continuing to get back in this race even after being disqualified. We would like everyone to know our true intentions. We are not suing the University for anything monetary. Instead, we filed a temporary restraining order to delay the presidential and vice-presidential election until after our case was heard. We would like a judge to reconsider our case and put our name back on the ballot because we feel that our constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association were violated.

We hope that everyone can understand our story and know what truly has been happening past the headlines. This decision is not motivated by revenge or any selfish reasons but rather it stems from our passion, love and belief in our cause.

Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara are former SG presidential and vice-presidential candidates.