Alec Weisman, Editor-in-Chief
An extremist political party known as Students First has attempted to hijack campus politics by trying to disqualify all other candidates.
Last week the student body at UCSD voted in an open election for their student representatives for the upcoming academic year. Results were scheduled be announced the evening of Friday April 8th, but were delayed because of Students First. Using a bureaucratic technique known as “grievances,” Students First filed 54 of these “grievances” against opposing parties and candidates (Tritons First and Board the Wing) in an attempt to get them disqualified. It was at this point that elections at UCSD took a more interesting turn.
Current Associated Students (AS) President, Wafa Ben Hassine, ran on the Students First slate in the 2009-2010 elections, and is an active supporter of Students First. Nevertheless, as AS President her duty is to represent the student body as a whole and ensure that a fair and open process exists for AS elections.
One of the powers of the AS President is to appoint students to serve on the AS Judicial Board (“J-Board”) to settle disputes for the Associated Students. At the end of March, Wafa selected her preferred candidates and appointed them to the Judicial Board. After a review of the membership of the Judicial Board, her conflict of interest is apparent.
The seven current members of the “J-Board” are: Polina Tsvetikova (Chair), Shounak Ghosh, Kevin Hsaio, Arianna Peregretti, Sarmad Bokhari, Sarah Montgomery, and Tanner Smith. Although the Judicial Board is supposed to remain unbiased during election proceedings, the clear violations by Sarmad Bokhari due to his support of Students First poses a dangerous conflict of interests in reviewing the election results. His Facebook prominently features Sarmad’s support for the Students First candidates and he has devoted his profile picture in their support. He has also refused to recuse himself from the Judicial Board hearings, citing that “I do not have any ties to Students First.” This contradiction is self-evident and reveals the lack of integrity by Sarmad Bokhari in regards to the fairness of UCSD Associated Students judicial board.
The hostile nature of Students First toward fair and open elections shows the full extent of their corruption and manipulation. By arrogantly and deliberately seeking to disqualify their opposition, they have shown their conviction that UCSD students are incapable of making decisions free from their coercion. By violating students rights Students First have revealed their unethical nature.