Candidates Accused of Illegally Procuring Votes
By Clifford Michel
CSI President William Fritz has decided to reject the election results of last May’s Student Government due to multiple complaints of candidates cheating, leaving the college unrepresented, and high-profile campus organizations unfunded.
Candidates for Student Government were accused of campaigning illegally, some even bringing laptops directly to students all over campus and inside the college’s dorms so that they could type in their SLAS and vote for them on the spot, two sources told The Banner.
The Campus Activities Board (CAB), which usually commands a budget of about $200,000, is one of the largest casualties of Student Government’s recent scandal: the organization, which funds dozens of events every year has no budget.
CAB typically puts on outdoor movie screenings, the involvement fairs, performances in 1C, and the Spring carnival. The organization is also popular amongst students for giving discounted tickets to broadway shows, major sporting events, the Bronx Zoo, and amusement parks for sometimes less than $20.
CAB also provides refreshments and funding for events and lecture series sponsored by professors at CSI.
“CAB puts on countless events on campus for students to enjoy,” said RJ Mohammad, former CAB chairman. “It’s ridiculous, but I’m not surprised…without funding we can’t do anything for the student body.”
Student Government didn’t approve CAB’s budget during the last academic school year, but the organization was expecting to get their budget approved by the newly elected Student Government over the summer.
Now, CAB is currently trying to cobble together a handful of events without any money.
WSIA, the college’s student run radio station, has also been left unfunded. The station currently cannot purchase office supplies or go forward with a joint project with CSI to convert to fiber optics. The radio station will likely be unable to attend the CMJ convention, a trip taken by college radio station’s across the country.
“Without a budget we’re more or less frozen,” said Laura Parnizari-Maraio, WSIA’s general manager.
There are a large number of clubs (around 40, according to CSI’s website) that also receive funding from Student Government. The Banner attempted to contact multiple clubs but ranking members didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
President Fritz decided to throw out the election results from last May after listening to recommendations from the Student Election Review Committee (SERC).
Those involved with Student Government said that the decision didn’t come easy.
“I think it become very complex, there were a lot of issues that need to be looked at, and in the president’s consultation,” said Carol Brower, Director of Student Life. “He felt the complexities and unique issues weren’t able to be resolved without the redoing of the entire elections.”
SERC’s creation was mandated by the CUNY Board of Trustees and all members are disassociated with Student Government.
SERC has decided to hold a completely new election for Student Government in September, allowing new members to run. The nomination period will be about a week long in order to expedite the process, because of the weight and exclusive power Student Government has on campus.
Last year the Student Government’s election process was also investigated, but the election results were ultimately upheld.
In interviews with several former members of Student Government, who requested anonymity due to the nature of their comments, a culture of intense power brokering and hostility came to light.
The sources told The Banner about heated debates on whether CAB should be fully controlled by Student Government. The sources also spoke about infighting between members concerning a trip to Ireland members provided funding for and attended themselves as well as another incident where a member yelled at Vice President for Student Affairs Ramona Brown.
“There’s an unfortunate environment that has been created over the past few years,” said Donald Hudec, CSI’s Student Government Coordinator. “It seems to be that the past two years that there have been more complaints than we’ve ever had.”
NOTE: RJ Mohammad served in Student Government last year while he also served as a member of the Campus Activities Board. Mohammad also ran to be President of CSI’s Student Government last year and currently still serves in CAB.