SG Leader Wants to Reprimand Candidate AND Administrator

On Thursday, SG officials will discuss reprimanding last week’s losing student body presidential candidate for something one of his supporters did: Handing out copies of a University Press article.

SG’s five election commissioners will also decide if they’ll reprimand the FAU administrator who stepped in and prevented them from seizing those copies from Boca student senator Gary Goldberg, a supporter of losing candidate Tony Teixeira.

In both cases, SG officials face difficulties.

First, a Florida journalism expert told the UP on Wednesday that distributing newspaper articles on a public campus is a matter of free speech.

“I don’t think they have a case,” said William McKeen, chairman of the University of Florida’s journalism department in Gainesville and an author of eight books. “All he was doing was sharing information that was already available.” Goldberg was just making it more available, McKeen said.

The controversy started when Goldberg made copies of a UP article titled, “Police Investigating Student Government Leader.” In it, the UP reported that winning candidate Kirk Murray is being investigated for misusing book vouchers intended for students. Campus police have been interviewing witnesses who say Murray kept the book vouchers for himself, redeemed them for textbooks, then returned the books days later for cash. Murray has not been charged, and he told the UP last week that he’s innocent.

Last Thursday, when Elections Commissioner Shea Silverman discovered what Goldberg was handing out, he asked Goldberg to put the copies away. Goldberg said Silverman tried to confiscate the papers, which Silverman denies.

At the time, Murray called Goldberg’s distribution of the article “unfair” and “slanderous,” but Lisa Bardill, the associate dean for Student Affairs, refused to allow SG officials to stop Goldberg.

“The candidates can pass out any information they want,” she said at the time, adding that SG’s election commissioners have no right to approve the content of that information.

As a result, Bardill has been cited for an election violation herself, even though it’s unclear if SG has the authority to do so.

Bardill’s only comment on the violation was, “If students have concerns about my job responsibilities, they can talk to me or my boss.” Her boss is Student Affairs Dean Leslie Bates.

These violations were written and submitted by acting Boca Senate Speaker Rocky Joarder, who cited SG election rules that state, “All campaign advertisements must be devoid of content that is slanderous, libelous, or defamatory.”

Joarder did not say how he intends to prove that the UP article is libelous. (In most cases, slander is the spoken version of libel, and both are forms of defamation). But in his complaint, Joarder said SG officials “determined that the materials needed to be confiscated until after the election.”

Because Bardill prevented that, Joarder wrote, “Dr. Bardill has severely impacted this election and knowingly interfered with the election process… She has further shown bias and partiality towards Mr. Gary Goldberg and the candidacy of Mr. Tony Teixeira.”

Joarder wants “a written complaint [to] be sent to the FAU Vice President for Student Affairs, the University President and the FAU Board of Trustees regarding the Associate Dean for Student Affairs actions [about her] disregard for Election Codes.”

Despite the fact that he may be on shaky legal ground – because state and federal laws trump SG statutes – Joarder still wants his complaints heard by the SG’s Elections Commission.

“I need to know if I was wrong or right,” he said.The Elections Commission meets Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the University Center’s Silver Palm room on the Boca campus.