MSU Student Body,
I am Aaron Eberhart–you may have seen my posters around campus and the Facebook page online featuring the rest of the ‘Accountability Party’ along with our platform.
In mid-January, I began to seriously consider a run for President of MSSA (our student government on campus). The reason I decided to pursue this was not for myself, but because I complained about what I saw, and instead of just sitting on the sideline, I felt an obligation to do what I believe is right and fix and improve things on our campus. With the political connections I have made and my personal experiences, I believed I could do a fine job leading the student body of MSU to new heights by lessening the burden on individual students by slashing student fees while also building our brand to reintroduce our University as a hidden gem in the Midwest.
When meeting with VP of Student Affairs David Jones about another topic in early February, I concluded the meeting by asking him where I could find updated election rules, because the most current ones posted for public consumption on the MSU website were from 2014-2015 (this has been confirmed by multiple people including John Bulcock, MSSA Advisor). I was referred to the MSSA office where I was deflected away and told that the 2017-2018 rules were not ready yet. After patiently waiting and checking the website frequently over the next month, I reached out to VP Jones again during spring break, and only at that time were the rules posted for anyone to see.
The rules were posted (as confirmed by Mr. Bulcock) on March 2nd, 2017, after being approved the previous day. These rules had massive changes from the rules I was abiding by on the website. The rules were put into effect retroactively. This means that people who had the 2016-2017 rules, which the public did not have, received a two month and one-day head start on everyone else. I will mention that with all incumbent senators on the same ticket, one party of the two parties had these rules ahead of time from last year, and I can confirm the “Accountability Party” had no incumbents on the ticket.
This shocked me because with this being a country of free and fair elections, I thought that a publicly funded university would comply with the rest of America. After more research, I found out I was wrong; there were multiple instances by different people and bodies on campus that did not follow their responsibilities which make this election in my eyes, as well as many others, an illegitimate election.
There were many examples of the rules either being discriminatory or the rules not being followed. Students are mandated to know and be accompanied by a member of the residence hall to be on the floor they each live on. This rule limits campaigning by someone’s living situation which is discriminatory. Rules for campaigning for local, state, and federal elections are more relaxed when the candidates aren’t even a part of our student body. Other violations, besides hiding the rules from students who are interested in running, come from Article III of the MSSA Spring Election Rules dated 2/27/17.
“1. The Elections Commission shall distribute posters advertising upcoming elections and candidacy filing procedures.” This was not done, and that is the fault of the Elections Commission, appointed late in the process by MSSA President Faical Rayani.
2. “The Elections Commission shall work with the Office of Student Affairs to distribute an all-student email advertising upcoming elections and candidacy filing procedures.” This is the fault of the Elections Commission and the Office of Student Affairs for not giving you and every other student a fair shot in the election.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this was never about me from the start. After seeing how poorly the administration and MSSA handled the upcoming election, I made the decision on Tuesday of this week to inform the MSSA Elections Commission that I would be rescinding my candidacy and immediately be suspending my campaign for President of MSSA. I did this because I believe all students have the same right to participate in these elections and those rights were violated. I refuse to be a part of an illegitimate election. I will make a commitment to all of those who supported me during my campaign, that I will hold the people who decided it was okay to step over the students (the same ones who pay their salaries) accountable at each step of the process. This battle for students’ rights is much larger than any one of us, and we must stay vigilant.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about your individual rights, and I encourage you to stand up for what you believe is right. We need your voice to be heard.
Respectfully, Aaron Eberhart.