As the student body prepares to begin voting in University-wide elections Wednesday, the University Board of Elections is investigating reports that the campaign of Gavin Oxley, Student Council presidential candidate and third-year College student, violated UBE procedure.
Oxley’s opponent, Abel Liu — Student Council’s current chair of the representative body and third-year College student — reported Oxley’s campaign to UBE for spreading misinformation and actively campaigning before the campaign period’s official Friday start date. In a Twitter thread, Liu called misinformed messaging in support of Oxley “slanderous.”
The alleged campaign efforts in question were largely catered to Inter-Fraternity Council and Inter-Sorority Council chapters and made false claims that Liu’s platform favored punishing or disbanding Greek life on Grounds. The only reference to the IFC or ISC in Liu’s platform references legislation he co-sponsored in February, which denounced the University’s negligence regarding violations during in-person Greek recruitment and asked that chapters comply with any ongoing University Judiciary Committee investigations.
In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, Liu clarified that he does not support abolishing Greek life.
“I do not want or plan to pursue abolishing the ISC or IFC if elected Student Council president,” Liu said. “Sororities and fraternities are chapters of national organizations — neither Student Council nor the University administration, including Dean Groves or President Ryan, have direct jurisdiction over those groups.”
In regards to the resolution he co-sponsored denouncing violations during recruitment, Liu clarified that the main objective of the resolution was to encourage IFC organizations under investigation by the UJC to comply fully and more importantly, for University administration to apologize.
“We wanted an apology from U.Va.,” Liu said.
In one instance, one of Oxley’s supporters — who noted that he spent “considerable time” with Oxley the previous week — repeatedly misgendered Liu in an email directed to an IFC chapter’s listserv. In the same email, the affiliate falsely claimed that Liu was “completely opposed” to all fraternities and sororities.
Similar content from this email — with only minor modifications — was also printed on flyers, which were allegedly passed to members of the IFC, Liu said in a post on his campaign’s Instagram Tuesday evening.
Liu first reported the violations to UBE on March 3 — nine days before campaigning was allowed to begin — and has claimed that multiple individuals both on and off his campaign reported violations as well. Liu also said that he asked for permission from UBE to clarify his stance on Greek life to members of the ISC in an email statement when he first reported the violations.
Liu sent Clare Scully, ISC president and third-year Commerce student, an official statement Tuesday morning to forward to ISC chapter presidents. In the statement, Liu clarified that he has not and never will blame Greek life for all issues related to COVID-19 and noted that Student Council does not have the authority to harm Greek life.
“I am not trying to destroy your social units,” Liu said in the statement to Scully. “I also know that Greek life captures the National Pan Hellenic Council and the Multicultural Greek Council, which I think we can all agree play a critical role in supporting multicultural students at U.Va. Greek life is not a bad thing.”
Andrew Huffman, IFC chair and third-year College student, clarified that the IFC’s governing body did not endorse Oxley in outreach to its members, but rather just encouraged members to participate in student elections. Scully has not responded to a request for comment.
Spencer Whitney, chair of UBE and third-year Commerce student, acknowledged that Liu was misgendered and that factually incorrect information was circulated about his campaign in an email statement sent to The Cavalier Daily Tuesday. If evidence is brought forward that reaches “the threshold of significance and specificity” found in UBE’s investigation procedure and rules, then the organization will begin its disciplinary process, Whitney wrote.
“The University Board of Elections strives to create an inclusive and equitable environment for all candidates, and we categorically condemn any form of discrimination against a candidate’s racial identity, gender identity or sexual orientation,” the statement said.
In response to a request for comment about the alleged violations, Oxley shared a brief statement with The Cavalier Daily.
“You have my permission to print exactly what I’ve written,” Oxley said. “You do not have my permission to print anything other than what I’ve written.”
Oxley later posted a separate statement on Instagram, elaborating on the allegations of misgendering during and outside of the debate.
“My campaign, from day one, has been based on honesty and integrity,” Oxley said. “As for any references to my opponent, during the debate or via email, I’ve only referred to him in general terms, never indicating gender at all.”
Oxley did not address the UBE investigation or potential campaign violations in his statement Tuesday night.
Liu’s campaign further addressed these allegations in an additional statement on Instagram.
“As the first transgender StudCo candidate, I have faced a bad faith attempt by my opponent to mobilize the IFC and ISC through fear-mongering and thinly-veiled transphobia,” Liu said. “I am hurt and disappointed by my opponent’s tactics.”
Students can find information on how to vote can be found on the Student Elections website. Once the voting period opens Wednesday at 10 a.m., the ballot can is available by clicking on the orange “VOTE” button at the top of the Student Elections page until voting closes Friday at 4 p.m. UBE will also send a personalized email link to every student.
This article has been updated to reflect that both Oxley and Liu shared additional statements on their campaign Instagram accounts addressing various parts of the allegations. Check back for more updates.
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the author of the email to the IFC chapter as a “campaign affiliate” in one reference. This language has been changed to refer to them as a campaign supporter.