The Student Coalition to Abolish Greek Life at AU has officially endorsed a candidate in the make-up election following the resignation of Nikola Jok, urging students on its Instagram story to write in Mason Peeples onto their ballots. Peeples is dating one of the key organizers leading the coalition, Halle Jaymes. This action is somewhat a betrayal of the spirit upon which the coalition was founded, which was anti-establishment and fueled by disillusionment with AUSG.
I stand by everything the coalition stands for, which includes the abolition of Greek Life on campus and a systematic overhaul of how the university adjudicates cases of sexual misconduct and racial discrimination. However, by endorsing a candidate for AUSG and levying its considerable influence, garnered from the brave work of @exposingauabusers and @blackatamericanuniversity, toward getting him elected, the coalition broke my heart.
The candidates who have announced runs during the special election called after Nikola Jok’s resignation all have been “exposed” as either racists or abusers, according to a top member of the coalition who has yet to explain in detail what such allegations are. On the surface, Hope Morency has been accused of saying the n-word, while Gary Lal and Eric Brock have been accused of sexual abuse.
On July 27, these three candidates released a joint statement addressing what it calls the “false” allegations of sexual abuse and racial insensitivity levied on them. “Each of the candidates vehemently denies these allegations,” the statement reads. “We together in pursuit of the truth. False allegations against sexual misconduct and discrimination make it incredibly difficult for survivors to come forward and share their stories.” It concludes by announcing it has asked the University Conduct Council to investigate the various accusations which they claim are untrue.
The accusation against Morency specifically came from an Instagram direct message that was later unsent. The accusations levied against Eric Brock came through the Instagram account @exposingericbrock, which has since been removed.
After first publicizing these allegations, the coalition received pressure to disclose more information and proof. It responded on Monday evening with three posts stating that with regards to all three candidates, it could not confirm nor deny such allegations of discrimination and sexual abuse, despite having already dedicated its efforts to electing Mason Peeples as the new AUSG President.
Images courtesy @abolishifcandpanhelatau (Instagram)
This comes after now-deleted posts by the coalition’s Instagram page describing the allegations against Morency, Lal, and Brock as credible. In the comments section on the coalition's explanation on how it received such allegations, a page @abolishabolish, which seems to specifically target the coalition's tremendous influence after the fallout following the explosion of @exposingauabusers and @blackatamericanuniversity, writes, "Strange how the exposing Eric Brock account posted their first photo and within minutes you had shared it."
Despite all this, the coalition stands by Peeples' write-in candidacy, and states “we emphasize that this is an election that is dictated by the voice of the AU student body and you should vote to your own discretion.”
"Mason is also free [of] any allegations and we trust him to serve as AUSG president with integrity and work for the abolition of Greek life and other oppressive systems at AU," the coalition stated in its Facebook group, which includes 315 members. "We promise you this is not a random choice."
The coalition also writes: "We had been planning on putting Mason on the ballot but were unable to move fast enough in compliance with AUSG."
Regardless of the accusations against the three candidates running for AUSG, trying to install someone who hasn’t even had to take on the responsibility of putting together a comprehensive platform is antithetical to the Coalition to Abolish Greek Life’s central narrative.
The coalition claims to oppose the disproportionate influence of fraternities and sororities in student government elections. If a low number of undergraduates vote, Greek Life organizations act as political machines of sorts, mobilizing support and voter turnout. This is how AUSG President Justin Levine reached the 100 signature threshold within 24 hours of announcing his candidacy, without any discernible policy platform. This is also why the coalition has continued to call for Levine’s resignation despite his proven disaffiliation from Sigma Phi Epsilon.
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By urging followers to write in a specific candidate, the coalition is mirroring this dynamic. It could be argued this is a better cause for disproportionate influence, but the act itself still skirts the popular system upon which the student government structure is (ideally) supposed to operate. If this action turns into convention, future AUSG elections are going to be played by de facto political parties. The Coalition to Abolish Greek Life, in essence, has become a political party. In the past, Greek Life organizations have acted as silent political parties. Now, a pro-abolition activist group is moving toward being an active one.
Furthermore, this action is extremely disruptive given the current state of student government following top position resignations.
The various members of AUSG who have not been “canceled” yet are doing remote budget contingency planning. The Budget Advisory Committee, or BAC, is working on putting in place the financial pieces for the coming semester, with a projected 30 percent reduction in Student Activity Fee money—a figure that will most likely be even lower as fewer students return to AU for the fall semester.
It would be safe to say that the current AUSG executive board has been handed an extremely dysfunctional campus environment to lead. Now, as the Coalition to Abolish Greek Life is using its newfound political power to try installing someone else as the next AUSG president while having publicized unconfirmed allegations against the three candidates already running, the dysfunctionality seems to have no end in sight.
Mark Lu is a rising senior in the School of Public Affairs. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Agora.
Images courtesy @abolishifcandpanhelatau/Instagram