After almost three hours of a closed hearing and deliberations, ASG Rules Committee voted unanimously on a suggested punishment (that was then passed by Senate) for Christina Cilento and Macs Vinson for not reporting receiving election data early, and using that data to mobilize voters.
With a majority vote of 26 to 9 with one Senator abstaining, the punishment passed that Vinson would have to publicly apologize on behalf of the campaign and Cilento would have to publicly apologize on behalf of herself and on behalf of the campaign, as well as completing 10 hours of community service.
“The apology is a huge step,” Cilento, a SESP junior, said. “In addition to the apology we want to focus on gaining back trust and rectifying this for next year.”
Mark Witte, director of undergraduate studies, explained that his analysis of the voting patterns proved inconclusive in showing if the release of information to Cilento and Vinson’s campaign actually affected the outcome. Shelby Reitman, who chairs the Rules Committee, said that after reviewing all of the evidence, Cilento and Vinson did violate rules, but there was no proof of continuous and/or deliberate actions.
Reitman explained that several options were considered, such as a revote, but that could lead to more harm than good. There was high voter turnout and setting up a revote would not only be hard on the candidates, but could risk not getting the same turnout.
“This is an unprecedented case, there were no examples to pull from,” ASG parliamentarian Reitman said. “We discussed both more and less severe options and found that while they may have worked as an idea the implementation would not best serve the student body and constituents.”
Speaker of the Senate Nehaarika Mulukutla emphasized how much thought and attention went into the whole process.
“At every step of the way Shelby and I were working with Scott, the former parliamentarian, to ensure that we were following a fair and judicial process and that we were never breaking procedure,” she said. “Because of that, the Northwestern student body should place it’s trust in us and remain faithful, because the process was done in [the Northwestern community’s] best interest.”
Weinberg junior Joji Syed, who lost the ASG presidential race to Cilento, said in a statement that although she believes the other campaign had a “competitive advantage,” she will respect the Rules Committee's and Senate’s decision.
“At the end of the day we have no idea if the leaked information to the other campaign did not have an influential effect on the results – unfortunately there’s no way to prove that, and I know that still leaves some questioning the final outcome,” Syed said. “I hope future campaigns never receive, mobilize or lie about information like this again and while I have heard from dozens of frustrated students in the last couple days, I hope ASG leaders can regain the trust of the student body after these unfortunate circumstances.”
Election Commissioner Lauren Thomas said it was important that many diverse opinions and people were represented in Senate.
“I just want to note that everyone involved at the top of this was a woman,” Thomas, a Weinberg junior, said.
The vote was done by a secret ballot per a one-fifth vote. B-status funding was also voted on at the beginning of the meeting.