Fraternity affiliation among ASUO Elections Board cause for concern among senate

Before they have even assumed their roles for spring-term elections, the ASUO Elections Board members are already under fire for a potential conflict of interest regarding fraternity association between committee members.

Three out of the four members of the elections board are members of Phi Delta Theta after elections board coordinator MacGregor Ehlen hired two members of his fraternity to the board.

Ehlen said it was not his intention to appoint his fraternity brothers to the elections board.

“I didn’t get Alex Davis to apply … I actually was surprised when I saw his application,” Ehlen said. “We don’t have a horse in this race. I’m not too concerned about our ability to be unbiased.”

Ehlen points out that every sanction the board makes is subject to appeal, so if its decisions are considered biased, the ASUO has a chance to change them.

Last November, the ASUO Senate tabled Sam Dotters-Katz’s confirmation of Ehlen to the position, which caused a bit of controversy and delayed Ehlen’s confirmation until mid-January.

Senate has since approved all three of Ehlen’s hires – Drew Spainhower, Rujun Cao and Davis – but not without controversy.

None of the senators took issue with Davis’ qualifications when approving his appointment as ASUO Elections Board office manager. Rather, some senators voiced concern with the potential for bias when electing another member of Ehlen’s fraternity.

The vote to confirm Davis on Feb. 19 was noticeably split by gender. Of the eight female members of the senate, six were present for the vote. Of those six female senators in attendance, five of the six voted against confirming Davis. Katie Rosenberg was the only female senator who voted to confirm Davis. Of the male senators present, Cody Koenig was the only one who voted not to confirm Davis.

“I think the board needs to be more diverse,” Koenig said at the meeting.

Many other senators raised similar issues about the lack of diversity on the elections board.

“Diversity is not a group of people who look differently and think alike,” Davis said. “You can have diversity of thought on the board with me, Mac and Drew.”

In response to claims made at the senate meeting, Ehlen sent an email to senators Taylor Allison and Helena Schlegel that disputes the claims. In the email he points to Cao, the elections board public relations coordinator and an international student, and Drew Spainhower, the elections board voter education coordinator and a Native American student, as examples of diversity within the elections board.

“My job is not to meet some arbitrary quota that the senate wants for this board,” Ehlen said in the email. “My job, and the job of my fellow board members, is to create the rules, administer the elections and respond to grievances in a timely manner.”

Regardless of the controversy, Schlegel says she’s looking forward to the upcoming spring term campaigns.

“MacGregor and I had disagreements about the process,” Schlegel said. “I’m looking forward to a fair election with the current elections board.”

Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.



Tell us what you think:

Alexandra Wallachy

Alexandra Wallachy

Alex is a head correspondent at the Emerald focusing on higher education and student government. She is also a producer for the Emerald Podcast Network and a huge fan of the Daily Show.