Indiana Daily Student

Inspire appeals disqualification to IUSG Supreme Court

<p>The IU Student Government office is located in the Student Activities Tower of the Indiana Memorial Union. In a petition received Sunday, Inspire asked the IUSG Supreme Court to review the IUSG Election Commission’s decision to disqualify the Inspire campaign.</p>

The IU Student Government office is located in the Student Activities Tower of the Indiana Memorial Union. In a petition received Sunday, Inspire asked the IUSG Supreme Court to review the IUSG Election Commission’s decision to disqualify the Inspire campaign.

The IU Student Government Supreme Court partially accepted the Inspire ticket’s petition to appeal its campaign’s disqualification, according to a statement from the court Saturday.

The IUSG Election Commission disqualified Inspire from the IUSG election after finding the ticket responsible for two election violations Tuesday. 

In a 103-page petition, Inspire asked the IUSG Supreme Court to review the IUSG Election Commission’s decision. The court agreed to hear Inspire’s claims that the complaints were filed incorrectly, the commission withheld evidence and the commission was wrong in ruling that Inspire failed to grant students’ requests to opt-out of campaign messages in a reasonable amount of time. 

The IUSG Supreme Court will also determine whether the commission wrongfully deemed Inspire’s use of mass messages without a clear option to discontinue communication a Class A offense, worthy of automatic disqualification. 

The IUSG Election Commission has until Monday night to respond to the allegations. According to a statement from the IUSG Supreme Court, the court has 21 days to hold a public hearing with the commission and Inspire.

The IUSG Supreme Court dismissed Inspire’s argument that the IUSG Election Commission is biased against Inspire. The court also dismissed Inspire’s argument that all recipients of campaign text messages opted-in to receiving communication and therefore did not need instructions to opt-out included in every message. 

Accepted arguments

Inspire submitted four total arguments, two of which the IUSG Supreme Court agreed to hear in full and one the court agreed to hear partially, the court said in a statement Saturday. 

The first accepted argument claims the IUSG Election Commission should not have accepted two of the five complaints against Inspire because they were filed incorrectly. The IUSG bylaws require that all formal complaints include the name and university email address of the complainant, the specific alleged violation, the names of the alleged offenders, the date of the alleged violation, the bylaw violated and any evidence. 

Complaints 1 and 2 against Inspire, made by senior Abe Leite and sophomore Macy Brammer respectively, do not meet all of those requirements. Neither complaint includes the university email address of Leite nor Brammer. Additionally, the second complaint did not mention any individuals by name, but instead named the Inspire campaign as the offender. Both Leite and Brammer used the complaint form provided by the IUSG Election Commission, which does not ask for a university email address or explicitly state that offenders must be named individuals, not entire campaigns. 

The IUSG Supreme Court also agreed to hear Inspire’s argument claiming the IUSG Election Commission withheld evidence it later used to disqualify Inspire, thus preventing Inspire from defending itself. The commission used screenshots of emails it received complaining about the mass text messages Inspire sent, as well as screenshots of the messages, as evidence against Inspire. 

Inspire made two claims in its third argument: Text message recipients were offered a clear way to opt-out, and all opt-out requests were granted in a reasonable period of time. The IUSG Supreme Court agreed to hear only the second claim, according to a statement from the court. 

In its petition to the court, Inspire said it received 297 replies to its texts, 275 containing the words “STOP” or “UNSUBSCRIBE.” Anyone who responded with either of those words was automatically removed from the mailing list, Inspire said. Other removal requests, including Brammer’s, were answered by Inspire staffers who manually removed recipients from the list, according to Inspire’s petition to the court. Inspire aimed to remove recipients within 24 hours of their request. 

Before 2021, the bylaws said campaigns had 36 hours to remove recipients. The current bylaws, updated this year, do not include a specific timeframe in which recipients must be removed.

In addition to Inspire’s arguments, the IUSG Supreme Court will decide whether the IUSG Election Commission wrongfully deemed one of Inspire’s violations a Class A offense. The commission automatically disqualified Inspire after finding the ticket responsible for using more than 10,000 peoples’ contact information collected from a petition circulated by the 2020 Inspire ticket — the current IUSG administration. The 2021 Inspire ticket collected approximately 12,000 peoples’ contact information on a separate petition. The bylaws state violations involving more than 5,000 students result in automatic disqualification.

The court said it is unclear how many of the people contacted through the petitions are current students and how many of those people are on both lists. In a statement Saturday, the court asked the IUSG Election Commission if it investigated these possibilities and ordered Inspire to disclose both contact lists. 

Dismissed arguments

Beyond dismissing the part of Inspire’s third argument claiming text message recipients were offered a clear way to opt-out, the IUSG Supreme Court refused to hear Inspire’s claim that the IUSG Election Commission was biased against its campaign. 

In its petition to the court, Inspire said the commission’s refusal to release preliminary results until after its disqualification was a tactic to undermine Inspire’s victory. Inspire also noted that many commissioners are involved in the same extracurriculars and social circles as members of the Elevate and Legacy campaigns. 

Specifically, Inspire accused Election Commissioner Adenike Oladeinde of bias. In its petition, Inspire alleged Oladeinde told an Inspire staff member that Inspire’s complaint accusing Elevate of copyright infringement was “ridiculous.” Inspire said the complaint was formally dismissed by the commission on the same day of Oladeinde’s alleged comment. 

Furthermore, Inspire said Oladeinde is close friends with Kaitlin Scott, a member of the Elevate staff who was accused of misusing her position as IUSG Congressional press secretary to promote the Elevate campaign. In its petition to the court, Inspire said the IUSG Election Commission dismissed the complaint made against Scott but accepted a similar complaint against Inspire with considerably less evidence.

Finally, Inspire submitted screenshots proving Election Commissioner Shambhavi Badi liked Instagram comments insulting the Inspire campaign, including one reading “i’m just here to say f*ck insp*re.” This evidence will not be considered by the IUSG Supreme Court because it was submitted after the deadline for appeals, the court said in a statement.

Additional appeals

Inspire submitted 10 petitions to the IUSG Supreme Court on Thursday in protest of the IUSG Election Commission’s dismissal of complaints against Elevate and Legacy. 

Inspire filed 18 total complaints to the commission April 5: 10 against Elevate and eight against Legacy. 

The IUSG Election Commission ruled to accept one of the 10 complaints Inspire submitted against Elevate and two of the eight complaints Inspire submitted against Legacy, the commission said in an Instagram direct message Tuesday.

Inspire appealed six of the dismissed complaints against Elevate and four of the dismissed complaints against Legacy to the IUSG Supreme Court. The court will release its decision to hear Inspire’s appeals by Tuesday afternoon, according to an email from IUSG Associate Justice Anna Engel.

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