Forward has been barred from all physical campaigning until the end of the general election campaign period effective Feb. 26. A staff member was also removed from the ticket’s roster after she spread inaccurate information about the other two tickets, Beyond and Unite.
The Elections Committee held a hearing on Feb. 25 where both Forward and Unite presented their sides. Unite claimed the Forward ticket had violated elections code and the SGA code of ethics after former Forward staff member McKenzie Strickland announced to her chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha that Forward was the only ticket with members who had not participated in “anti-Greek rallies.”
This announcement came directly after Unite staff member Ann Hollis Sanders campaigned for Unite at the chapter meeting. According to Sanders, members of the sorority were encouraged to vote immediately after Strickland spoke.
Roughly 20 minutes after Strickland delivered her speech urging her sorority sisters to vote for the ticket that would ensure “Greek life will stay alive,” she posted an apology in the chapter’s Facebook group correcting her implication that members of Unite and Beyond had taken part in an “anti-Greek rally.” She also asked ZTA President Anna Claire Box to send an email to the sorority listserv correcting her mistake.
The elections committee determined this was a violation of chapter 503.2 section a-c and h of the Code of Ethics, which requires all SGA members to “conduct themselves at all times in a manner that shall reflect positively on the Student Government Association and the University of Georgia” while maintaining the “appropriate attitude” and upholding UGA principles.
The committee also decided Forward violated section 706.1c of the Elections Code, which states that campaign staff must adhere to SGA’s Code of Ethics. Because Strickland had shared information with her chapter “designed to diminish the opinion that the ZTA members present had of the non-Forward Tickets,” she had acted “unethically,” according to the official notice of sanction.
Strickland told the committee she had unintentionally spread this false information she believed was true at the time. Strickland said she intended to read a script provided to her by Forward, however, Strickland said she became “flustered” speaking in front of the crowd of women, which caused her to “go off-script.”
It was at this point Strickland acknowledged that she “misspoke.” At the hearing, Strickland said she meant to say that individuals on tickets other than Forward “have made disparaging comments about Greek life.”
Instead, she implied members of Unite and Beyond had taken part in “anti-Greek rallies.” When she was asked what she was referring to at the hearing, Strickland cited the march from South Milledge Avenue to campus last spring after a video went viral displaying members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity using racial slurs.
One Forward associate counsel Parker Allen acknowledged the march “was not an example of an anti-Greek rally as members of the Interfraternity Council exec at that time also participated. It was more of a unity march.”
The election committee has suspended Forward from all physical campaigning including tabling, speaking to groups such as classes, clubs or Greek life chapters, distribution of campaign materials and verbal discussion of the campaign. The ticket is still permitted to campaign digitally and members can wear ticket merchandise, such as T-shirts and buttons, although they cannot distribute any items, according to the statement.
This comes as Forward’s second sanction following an early campaign violation after they prematurely accepted followers and displayed their campaign logo on their Instagram. Unite was also sanctioned after it failed to submit a financial disclosure form by the official deadline.
Clarification: This article has been clarified to reflect Forward’s associate counsel’s comments on the march from South Milledge Avenue to campus.