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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

MASSPIRG election violation


MASSPIRG logo superimposed over a depiction of “NO” being chosen over “YES” while voting.

Every spring, both undergraduate and graduate UMass Boston students head to the polls and make their voices heard. Students vote for a whole host of positions, including senators, President and Vice President, and Student Trustee. Additionally, this year’s ballot featured two similar referendum questions regarding the student organization MASSPIRG. Students interested in the results of the election can find the results here: http://www.umassmedia.com/news/2021-usg-election-results/article_1211467e-9941-11eb-8119-07e6a82413c1.html

Those who took a look at the election results may have noticed the following comment made by the Elections Committee at the end of the results for the second referendum question. The comment was made after the results of the second referendum question, reading, “includes a 1.5 percent reduction in votes due to election violations”. This unfortunate reality means that MASSPIRG, an organization that claims to support the student body, acted in a manner that undermined the integrity and legitimacy of the undergraduate student government. Whether what they did was intentional or otherwise, this kind of behavior is something that is unfortunate to see in an organization that has been driving to get people registered to vote.

When running for office or submitting a referendum question, election participants are required to sign a form where they must pledge to not violate any of the terms of the election. Any violations of the election guidelines result in penalties that may subtract votes from the guilty party. As MASSPIRG submitted their own referendum question, they are subject to those rules, and it is clear from the election results that they committed some kind of election violation.

For some clarification regarding the election violation, the Mass Media reached out to the Elections Committee for comment. The Elections Committee explained, writing in a statement to the Mass Media, “Whenever elections are held for USG, the Elections Committee has the duty to review any potential campaign violations and decide to take action on them if the violations are deemed true and go against the election bylaws found in the USG bylaws or the election guidelines. In this case, the Elections Committee received emails that stated MassPirg had violated the endorsement rule. Clubs/Organizations cannot endorse any Senator, Pres/VP, and/or Student Trustee candidate without first filling out and submitting an endorsement form to the Elections Committee. One example of an endorsement is if a club/organization were to repost a campaign post on its social media pages(s). If a club/org does that without filling out the endorsement, that goes against the election guidelines. The emails sent to the Elections Committee claimed that MassPirg had reposted a Pres/VP candidate on their Instagram story and also did it for one of the Student Trustee candidates. Both of these potential complaints also included screenshot evidence of MassPirg reposting candidates on their story. No endorsement forms were filed with the Elections Committee stating MassPirg is endorsing a candidate. Because of this, the Elections Committee had agreed that both of these incidents had indeed violated the guidelines, and infractions were levied against the total amount of Yes votes received on their referendum question. A 1.5 percent infraction was implemented, 0.5 percent for the first incident, and a 1 percent infraction for the second. Even with the 1.5 percent infraction, it did not change the overall outcome of the referendum question and passed.” 

Although MASSPIRG agreed to the elections guidelines, it is clear from the statement from the Elections Committee that they violated these terms, not once, but twice. The Mass Media reached out to MASSPIRG, however, MASSPIRG did not respond to our requests for comment. Although MASSPIRG spends a great deal of time on student outreach, it is unfortunate that they could not send the Mass Media a comment regarding the election violation committed by their organization. 

MASSPIRG is a widely known student organization, with connections within the Student Government as well as connections within the UMass Boston administration. However, this unfortunate act of election violations does not bode well for MASSPIRG’s blameless image on campus. We as students should hold MASSPIRG accountable and ensure that no student organization, not even MASSPIRG, is above the law. MASSPIRG, do better.