Our Grievance with Grievances

The original result of this year’s Student Government Association presidential race was 555-501, with Michael Slavens winning out over Max Gocala.

Voting closed Wednesday night and grievances could be filed until 6 p.m. Thursday.

After the grievances, the final vote count was 527-461, still in favor of Slavens.

If you don’t want to do the math, Slavens was docked 5 percent of his votes after grievances were heard and Gocala lost 8 percent.

Ultimately, grievances didn’t decide who would be representing the students of Youngstown State University next school year.

But they could have. It was discussed as a very real possibility in The Jambar office.

Gocala had five grievances filed against him. All but two were
dismissed. What if the Elections Board had accepted only one of the grievances? What if the penalties applied to Gocala’s ticket were lesser — say
only 4 percent instead of eight?

Or what if the grievance against Slavens resulted in a 10 percent penalty, like when Cory Okular’s votes got docked 10 percent a few years ago for showing students where to vote? Slavens was found to be in violation of university policy, according to the Elections Board Grievance Resolution Report, after all. It’s entirely possible that he could have penalized more than 5 percent.

There were plenty of situations where these grievances could have affected the outcome of the SGA presidential election.

Don’t get us wrong; the grievance process is necessary. Rules need enforcing, and it isn’t possible for the Elections Board to look across campus for any possible violation.

What we’re taking an issue with is what grievances are being filed for.

One was for campaign materials sitting on a desk in the Center for Student Progress. Not being handed out in the CSP — which is considered part of Kilcawley Center, an area where materials are not allowed to be distributed — but rather, that they were just sitting on a desk.

At a hearing for another grievance, it was claimed that a candidate was urging a student at the CSP to vote for him. Instead, the Elections Board
decided that the candidate was “fulfilling his duties as a peer mentor to promote student involvement by
instructing the student how to cast his vote, and refrained from promoting his own party or campaigning to the student.”

From our point of view, it seemed like grievances were being filed the smallest of violations, just to see what would stick.

Ultimately, these grievances didn’t affect the outcome of the election. Slavens won the popular vote and after the hearings he kept his lead.

The fact that we could have had a different SGA president as the result of grievances should not be taken lightly. And when we were so close to a
different outcome after complaints were filed just to see what the tickets would be penalized for, it should be taken even more seriously.