Newly elected Columbia College Student Council Vice President for Campus Life Andrew Ren, CC ’15, will be docked eight votes by the election board after an investigation into a campaign-email rule violation.
Ren, a member of the TAP party, was investigated after sending an email to Sigma Phi Epsilon President Alexander Felsberg, CC ’16, asking him to forward it to the fraternity’s listserv. Ren is a member of Delta Sigma Phi.
Elections Board President Jeremy Meyers, CC ’15, said that candidates asking someone to send an unsolicited email on their behalf constitutes an election violation because candidates are not allowed to send emails to people they do not know, or who did not specifically request to receive emails from their campaign.
“Anything somebody does on your behalf is treated as if you did it yourself,” Meyers said.
Ren’s violation comes after the elections board also investigated CCSC class of 2017 winning party Refresh for unsolicited emails. The Columbia Elections Board ultimately docked two votes from Refresh.
Ren said that he did not consider the email to be unsolicited because Felsberg said in a Facebook conversation that he would “gladly email the chapter with your platform and what not” in screenshots sent to Spectator by Meyers.
“I definitely accidentally did this and didn’t intend to cause any harm,” Ren said.
TAP President and current CCSC VP for Communications Peter Bailinson, CC ’16, said that he was also not aware that Ren was committing any violations with his email, citing a different email University Senator Marc Heinrich, CC ’16, asked the Columbia International Relations Council and Association to send during last fall’s special senate elections.
Meyers said Heinrich’s action was a unique circumstance allowed due to the high quantity of special elections that year—the rules were under CCSC’s bylaws, which the elections board no longer uses.
Though Meyers said that TAP party members still should have known it was against the rules, he believed that Ren’s action was a mistake.
Ren said that he will not be appealing the decision made by the elections board to remove eight votes—which would still leave him with a 24-point lead over Insight party runner-up, Sarah Yee, CC ’16.
“I would rather just take the blame and continue to do the work that we do,” Ren said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Ren was a member of SigEp. He is actually a member of Delta Sigma Phi. Spectator regrets the error.