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Sophomore presidential slate ’23andTree disqualified after violating ASSU campaign finance rules

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Sophomore class president slate ’23andTree was disqualified and omitted from the ballot for violating Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) campaign finance regulations and the Fundamental Standard, according to ASSU Elections Commissioner Christian Giadolor ’21.

During their campaign, ’23andTree had offered students a chance to win a $100 grant if the slate was elected.

’23andTree was omitted from the ASSU elections ballot when it was released Monday at midnight. The group told The Daily that they had not notified that they had been disqualified before the ballot had been released. Giadolor declined to comment on behalf of the Elections Commission on when the slate had been notified.

The slate also posted to a Frosh Formal Instagram account advertising a town hall run by the slate, which sparked controversy because the slate had access to the account through a member who is on the Frosh Council. Giadolor declined to comment on whether the post could be characterized as a violation, as the Elections Commission is currently in the process of addressing the issue. 

“Some of these violations clearly broke the Fundamental Standard, which is an agreement between all students and the University,” wrote ASSU Director of Communications Cricket X. Bidleman ’21 in a statement to The Daily. “Allowing this to continue decreases the significance that the ASSU has, not only toward the university administration but also to all the students we are supporting.”

Student Affairs spokesperson Pat Harris declined to comment on whether ’23andTree’s actions constituted a Fundamental Standard violation, writing that “student conduct review is a confidential process and the university does not confirm individual student conduct matters.”

’23andTree — Abigail VanderPloeg ’23, Edgar Roman ’23, Yvonne Hong ’23 and Daily staffer Om Jahagirdar ’23 — sent an email to the frosh class on Wednesday announcing the creation of “Do Nearly Anything [DNA] Grants” which would go toward subsidizing execution of the winning students’ event ideas.

Students could pitch grant ideas that frosh could vote on in a “test run” of the grant. The winner of the $100 grant would be announced at the end of the campaigning period and later given the money if the slate won, according to the email.

Giadolor said communications related to the DNA Grant test run violated ASSU campaign finance regulations and the University’s Fundamental Standard.

“The allusion to money for votes is effectively bribery, and that’s disingenuous to voters,” Giadolor said. 

’23 and Tree removed information related to the grant from the slate’s website and social media platforms. The slate said in an interview with The Daily that it had planned to keep the DNA grants as a part of its platform, although it canceled the test run. Students who had already applied would have had to reapply for the funding after the slate is elected, according to the slate.

The slate said that its intention was to model the grant system after dorm-based grants at Stanford that would benefit the broader sophomore class community. The test run was meant to engage the voters and “share the agency we want to give.”

In the statement to the Daily, the slate clarified the intention of the grant.

“We did not intend to simply give out money for anyone’s personal endeavors and would make sure any resources garnered from a DNA Grant are used exclusively for executing the event proposed,” the slate wrote. “We would like to reiterate, by voting for ’23andTree on election day, in no way are you more likely to personally gain financially.”

In an earlier statement, they issued an apology intended for the entire Class of 2023.

“If you vote for ‘23andTree, it should be because of our platform and ideas, not because of potential personal gain,” the slate said. “We want to offer our sincerest apology for this mistake, and we want to be completely transparent about the purpose of DNA Grants as part of our platform.”

Roman, a member of the slate who is on Frosh Council, made a post promoting the slate’s ’23andUs Town Hall on the Instagram account @stanfordfroshformal19. The account was originally created for Frosh Council to communicate information about Frosh Formal 2019. The post has been taken down since. 

According to the slate, its members “disclose[d] the incident to the ASSU ourselves.” 

The slate wrote that the post was a “misstep” as it had not disclosed to the ASSU as an account where promotion would take place. The slate wrote that it had not done so due to the low number of followers the account has, and since the other presidential slates had access to the account as well, as each sophomore class president slate includes a Frosh Council member.

The slate said it had asked the ASSU for permission to make posts promoting other slates’ town hall to grant the exposure ’23andTree received by posting on the Frosh Formal account.

“Regarding the social media post, the election commission is addressing the issue right now and will not comment on that,” Giadolor said. 

May 19: This article was corrected to reflect that ’23andTree was not notified of their disqualification before the release of the ballot, not that they had not been notified at all. The Daily regrets this error. This article has also been updated to include Pat Harris’ statement.

May 18: This article has been updated to reflect that the slate was disqualified from the election for the grant and has issued an apology email for ASSU to distribute it to the frosh class.

A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that winners of the grant were to be announced at the end of the campaign period if the slate won. The winners would have been announced at the end of the campaign period regardless, but they would not have received the award unless the slate won. The Daily regrets this error.

A previous version of this article misquoted the slate in saying that the winner of the grant would have been able to “do nearly anything” with the grant money. While they were named “Do Nearly Anything Grants,” the grant would have gone toward subsidizing execution of the winning student’s event idea. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Anastasia Malenko at malenk0 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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