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IU Student Government Supreme Court overturns dismissal of Defy complaint



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Madeline Garcia, left, and Rachel Aranyi, right, pose for headshots. The IU Student Government Supreme Court decided Thursday to overturn the Election Commission’s dismissal of the Defy campaign’s complaints against Inspire for its acquisition of student and non-student emails. Coutesy Photo

The IU Student Government Supreme Court decided Thursday to overturn the Election Commission’s dismissal of the Defy campaign’s complaints against Inspire for its acquisition of non-student emails.

Associate Justice Eli Schantz said in the majority opinion that the IUSG Supreme Court the Election Commission’s decision was wrong and sent the matter to the Election Commission for investigation. There are 11 members on the court. Two members did not participate in the vote, eight associate justices agreed with the majority opinion and the chief justice dissented. 

“The two big things that the court was wrestling with here were the evidence that was presented in the complaint and then the whole 48-hour deadline,” said IUSG Supreme Court Chief Justice Graham Vogtman in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student.

A complaint must be filed within 48 hours of the alleged violation. After a complaint is filed, the Election Commission will issue a decision whether to dismiss or accept the complaint. Once the decision is made, the campaign that filed the complaint has an additional 48 hours to appeal. 

Defy issued its complaint against Inspire Saturday, more than two weeks past the 48-hour deadline. Senior and IUSG Election Commission Chair Quinn Gordon said in a previous interview with the IDS that the Election Commission waived the deadline because of the severity of the complaint.

According to Defy’s complaint documents, Inspire collected non-student IU-affiliated email addresses, including those of high school students, graduates and students who transferred out of IU. The April 1 email invited non-students to join a virtual town to discuss the Inspire campaign’s response plan to COVID-19 before IUSG elections took place. 

The court believes the collection and distribution of high school students’ emails may be two violations of university policy, according to the majority opinion.

The court asked the Election Commission to work with the University Information Policy Office and IU Data Stewards to determine how the emails of high school students were collected. It also asked the groups to determine if this acquisition of emails violates the university’s information technology policy, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act-related policy and University Data Management Policy.

The concurring opinion, delivered by Associate Justices Brennan Murphy and Madeline Hudson, states that while the 48-hour rule helps prevent superfluous complaints, encourages timely investigations and enables the Election Commission to conduct investigations, the rule doesn’t seem reasonable for this alleged violation.

The dissenting opinion, delivered by Vogtman, said an exception to the 48-hour rule is unprecedented and will be confusing for future election candidates.

“The Code does not say complaints must be filed within 48 hours after a party becomes aware of the alleged violation,” the document reads. “Nor does it provide any exception to this rigid timeline.”

IUSG Election Commission chair Quinn Gordon said he agrees with the dissenting opinion delivered by Vogtman in a text to the IDS. He said the Election Commission will respect the court’s decision and has already reopened the investigation against Inspire with the aid of university officials.

He said he couldn’t comment on the progress of the investigation or what the results will be but said Inspire’s victory in IUSG’s April 15-16 election may not be certified until after the school year is over.

Once the investigation is complete and the Election Commission issues its decision on if there was a violation of university policy, Defy will have 48 hours to appeal, Vogtman said. If the campaign doesn’t appeal, the election will be finalized. After an additional 24 hours, the Election Commission will send the final results of the election to the IUSG Supreme Court, he said.

“In the meantime, IUSG will continue to operate for the betterment of the student body during a global pandemic,” Gordon said.

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