Monday night, The Cavalier Daily and University Board of Elections co-hosted a live candidate forum for the upcoming Student Council presidential election. During the closing remarks of the forum, candidate Hunter Wagenaar, a third-year College student, alleged multiple instances of misconduct during the UBE-sponsored endorsement process. Based on these claims, it is clear that UBE must postpone the election for all Student Council positions until a full investigation into the legitimacy of his claims has been completed.
Most notably, Wagenaar accused individuals currently close to and on third-year College student Ellen Yates's campaign ticket of trying to influence endorsing organizations to support her candidacy. Wagenaar claims that this happened on multiple occasions, and UBE confirmed that they were made aware of a formal complaint that Wagenaar brought forth.
Regardless of personal preference or individual opinion of the candidates themselves, the gravity of these allegations alone merits an investigation. The allegations suggest very serious claims of corruption against the Yates ticket — as such they must be investigated in a fair and balanced manner before any election decisions are made. Without this, it would be impossible for a fair election to be guaranteed at this time. UBE is tasked with upholding the integrity of student elections — an obligation that is so significant as it allows for the University’s sacred ideal of student self-governance to be upheld.
According to UBE Rules and Regulations, “No candidate may become involved in the decision-making processes of any Endorsing Organization’s endorsing Process.” If a complaint concerning a violation is brought to UBE, the board has the right to “resolve the dispute through mediation.” Although these allegations have not been confirmed, members running for several Student Council positions are implicated in the ongoing investigation. Notably, according to Wagenaar, someone running for election on Yates’s ticket may have been involved in the alleged violation.
At this time, UBE is conducting investigations to gather more information about Wagenaar’s claims as well as decide the best path forward. Mason Fuller, UBE Chair and fourth-year College student, said this type of alleged violation of UBE policy is “unprecedented” and that they are pursuing a “reasonable and fair” response for everyone involved.
However — with voting beginning Wednesday morning — UBE must work towards resolving the issue so that voters are not casting their votes without all of the information. Wagenaar’s allegations involve members of the Yates ticket — as such, the elections for each of these positions is affected by the eventual decision from UBE. Thus, if UBE is not able to finish its investigation into these claims before the beginning of the voting period, they need to push back the election until it is completed. Wagenaar brought his concerns to UBE Feb. 14, and no plan of action has yet been made. The decision from UBE regarding these allegations holds enormous weight in the election — as such, the decision must be made before voting begins.
Some may propose that the more practical option would be to hold the election as planned and later have a new election depending on the conclusions of the UBE investigation. However, this would likely hinder student trust in Student Council. Student election turnout is already critically low and asking students to vote in multiple election cycles may further discourage them from casting their votes. Moreover, the only choice left for students is to vote for candidates that are tied to an ongoing UBE policy investigation — regardless of its outcome. Students deserve to have the full truth — from an independent investigation — before making a decision this vital.
The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors and their Senior Associate. The board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.