March 29, 2010
Kentucky State University student government association is no stranger to adversity and faces yet another controversial election as seven candidates were removed from the ballot approximately 72 hours prior to the start of campaigning. After last year's issues with candidates being removed from ballots and elections being postponed, students hoped that this year would be different but there hopes were denied Thursday when yet again candidates were missing from the ballots citing "social and behavioral sanctions."
Students were removed from the ballots citing on campus fights, drug charges, DUI charge, theft and other misdemeanors. This information aiding in the removal of the candidates were gathered from police files and student conduct files at the university.
" KSU office of student affairs must check all candidate eligibility prior to being officially placed on the ballot, stated Vernell Bennett Assistant Vice president of Student affairs at the emergency meeting that was called after the candidates were removed," When these names were checked there were sanctions and other issues that made them ineligible."
The SGA constitution states that candidates must have a clean record and any sanctions that appear on the students records are at the discretion of the office of student affairs to determine if they make them eligible or ineligible to run for a position.
Many students express concerns that retrieving student police records was unfair considering this was the first year that police records had been used to determine eligibility. However all arrests and sanctions that were used to determine eligibility are public record.
"The reason that police records were used this year was because I was given the names of potential candidates and asked to have them checked and cleared in 4 hours, when there is a 48 hour turnaround time for this information. The only way to check records and have them returned in such time was to send them to the police and base decisions on those records," stated Bennett.
According to the SGA constitution there is to be an election committee formed by January 15, and candidates are to be notified of eligibility within 14 days. This year this did not happen, the election committee was not formed until a week prior to the start of campaign week, which gave those candidates who were removed from the ballot no time to appeal the eligibility decisions.
SGA has drafted amendments to incorporate a group of elected students that will work with the office of student affairs to form a discretionary committee who will review cases where sanctions and behavioral records are in question. Currently no amendments have been passed or approved and no changes have been made to the list of eligible candidates.