By Scott Nisley
The events surrounding the race for president of Rutgers-Newark’s Student Government Association have almost overshadowed the race itself.
Last week, presidential hopefuls Daniel Rosario and Luis DePaz were suspended from their respective campaigns following a series of charges brought against them by SGA’s elections committee.
The charges — one against Rosario for alleged intimidation and destruction of campaign materials and the other against DePaz for allegedly making a false statement — were dropped by the Elections Committee following an investigation made into the matter.
A private hearing was conducted last week under the watch of the SGA Elections Committee and Genevieve Sumski, Assistant Dean in the Office of Student Life and Leadership.
Quincy Morgan, Criminal Justice Academic Senator and Chair of the Elections Committee, issued the following statement to The Observer in response to the group’s decision in handling the charges against Rosario and DePaz:
“We are dedicated to ensuring that our Association is in the hands of a generation that is known to serve with honor, discipline, leadership, respect, and responsibility. The Committee’s decisions regarding the candidacy eligibility of both Mr. Rosario and Mr. DePaz were not taken lightly and was not reached without serious deliberation and impartiality, based on the evidence and testimony that was received over the course of the investigation.”
While Rosario has decided not to comment publicly on the matter, an associate running on his campaign ticket was able to speak on the candidate’s behalf.
Matthew Chambers, SGA’s Student Affairs Senator, who is running for Vice President on the same ticket as Rosario, maintained his belief that Rosario had always been operating professionally. He believes that Rosario became frustrated during the elections process, and that the frustration could have been perceived as intimidation by an objective third party.
“I could understand reasons you would accuse him of that,” Chambers said. “And I can understand reasons to interpret his behavior as that. But I don’t personally feel like he wants to intimidate people or ever employ the threat of violence for any reason.”
DePaz has maintained that any claims against his own character regarding his alleged dishonesty are untrue. He insists that the hearing conducted by SGA’s Elections Committee “was basically all about Mr. Rosario’s claims.” DePaz said he feels no animosity toward his opponent.
“All I ever did was always treat him with the upmost respect,” DePaz said. “He does what he does, and I do what I do. I’m the type of person who just likes to live a calm life. If someone has issues towards me, that’s their thing. I don’t like to bring up fights or arguments.”
Eslam Abdelbasset, the only presidential candidate to avoid suspension and scrutiny from the Elections Committee, has chosen to focus on his own campaign and not get involved with the controversy surrounding his opponents.
Divij Pandya, current SGA President and member of the Elections Committee explained that in hearing Rosario and DePaz’s testimonies, the group was unable to find suitable evidence to prove the allegations against the candidates.
“We reviewed the evidence that we had,” Pandya said. “We swiftly made a decision and we promptly let them know so that they could restart their campaigns and make up for lost time. We wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t be adversely affected to the best of our abilities.”