Presidential candidate James Carney has declared that he is “expecting to be given a campaigning ban in the near future” following a breach of YUSU election rules.
On February 22nd at 16:00 an email was sent to over 400 individual addresses on the Goodricke JCRC mailing list. The email contained overt endorsement of James Carney’s bid, declaring “vote for James Carney” and outlining of his main policies.
The person responsible for sending the email is currently unknown. In an email, sent by Carney to Nouse, he stated: “The email was not sent out by any members of my campaign team and I certainly knew nothing about it.”
An email was sent out immediately after by the Returning Officer for the elections apologising to those who had received the email.
Despite declaring he was not responsible for the email itself, Carney stated: “When we nominate ourselves for the elections, we agree that we are responsible for the actions of those acting on our behalf.” He went on to add he is therefore expecting to receive a campaign ban.
Carney expressed his disappointment with what had happened, emphasising how it is particularly damaging given his pledge to run fairer elections.
Carney also stated that it is likely the email was sent as a result of “a breach of trust within the Goodricke College JCRC or an incident of incompetency, leaving the information freely available.”
One Goodricke student stated: “All the students that received the email and don’t acknowledge it was a clear violation may vote for him anyway because they don’t know who else to vote for. A friend of mine also suggests it’s only made Carney more popular because now everyone in Goodricke is talking about him and even though he broke the rules people want to vote for someone a little bit different.”
Emily Niamh Miller, Goodricke JCRC Chair, commented on the incident: “[The] Goodricke JCRC use a variety of tools, including Facebook and mailing lists, to keep Goodricke students informed about all the activities and campaigns being run by our Committee. I’m very disappointed that someone has taken it upon themselves to abuse these facilities for their own ends, and I’d like to apologise once more to all the Goodricke students who received the messages in question.
“We are very careful about who has access to our mailing lists, and as soon as the abuse was reported, we restricted access even further to prevent any further problems. YUSU and the University are investigating the incidents, and as soon as they inform us of who was responsible, we can decide what action to take.”
A formal apology was posted by Goodricke College on its Facebook page following the incident: “We are at present investigating how unauthorised access to our account has been gained”.
The post went on to state: “Please do not feel pressurised into voting for any particular YUSU candidate as a result of this communication.”
The issue calls in to question the safety and privacy of those on the Goodricke JCRC mailing list.
UPDATE: Carney has been issued with an online campaigning ban from midnight on the 27th February to the end of the voting period on Thursday 1st March.
Speaking to Nouse, Carney explained that he had received an email from Carys Jones, Deputy Returning Officer.
The email stipulated that Carney, or anybody on his behalf, will not be permitted to campaign, “by any online means” from midnight on Monday 27th February, to “the end of the voting period”.
Entailed in the online ban is, “the removal of all social media campaigning sites and accounts including Facebook, Twitter and any mailing lists gathered”. It also imposes a ban on the sending of “any electronic messages by James or his team”.
Carney has since described the ban as “very harsh” and “highly disappointing”.
It is particularly damaging given Carney’s dependency on online campaigning and his intention to not create “an intrusive presence on campus”.