Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

ASI election shrouded in controversy following results

Ruby V. Muñiz, 2020 ASI president elect. (Courtesy of ASI)

A dispute has been filed against the winner of this week’s Associated Students Inc. (ASI) presidential election alleging she was holding giveaways to earn students’ votes.

ASI senator and third-year political science and communication major Ruby V. Muñiz was announced on Thursday, March 26 as the next ASI president, receiving 1,508 votes. 

According to several sources, Muñiz was messaging students and providing them incentives to support her, including giveaways for a $25 and $100 Amazon gift card. 

In one message, Muñiz asked students to post a picture of her campaign poster on their Instagram story and tag her to enter in the $25 giveaway. For the $100 giveaway, she asked voters to send a screenshot to confirm that they voted for her.

Maci Steinhauer, ASI office coordinator, confirmed a dispute has been filed regarding the gift card giveaways. Students have until next Friday at 3 p.m. to file additional disputes, according to the ASI election code.

All disputes related to ASI elections are handled by the Student Court.

The ASI election code does not directly address the use of giveaways as an incentive to vote. 

Muñiz did not respond to requests for comment.

The two other presidential candidates opposed the practice and said they were not aware of the giveaways since Muñiz had blocked them on Instagram.

Presidential candidate Naila Estrada said she does not agree with these giveaways.

“I think it’s not right that she did that, because you shouldn’t have to bribe students for their vote. I wasn’t personally aware of that as she had blocked me on Instagram once the campaign started so I didn’t know,” Estrada said. “I’m disappointed obviously, but I think this should be looked at closely. It’s not fair for the other candidates.”

In a series of Instagram stories, presidential candidate and current vice president of external affairs Elizabeth Rocha Zuñiga said the giveaway offers were unethical.

“I think it’s unethical to take money for poor quality performance. Ya tú sabes [You know it],” Zuñiga said. “I consider your conduct unethical and lousy. Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. Not bargaining for votes.”

Zuñiga added that she was mostly unaware of what was taking place.

“In light of disservices to the student body… I want to be as transparent as possible, I was unaware of what was being done, due to being blocked, and due to some of my family members and friends being blocked from the candidate’s Instagram. I found out about the raffle through others. I was told of the $25 gift cards on March 23, and I asked if this was allowed to our elections team, and it was,” Zuñiga said. 

“..I did not know the $100 gift cards were used, nor used for bribery to show that students voted for a certain candidate, until after the results. I did not know that the $25 were used only if you reposted and tagged the candidate online either,” she said.

Zuñiga said she did not know of another ASI election where giveaways were used.

“I am unaware of this being an issue historically. I know some amazing students who ran in my three campaigns, and who were not elected, and that is a part of our democratic process,” Zuñiga said. “Nonetheless, bribery has no place in this.”

Zuniga said ASI needs to be held accountable for condoning this behavior, and she is appalled that students would go to this measure to ensure their electability. 

Several other ASI senators expressed their displeasure surrounding the use of giveaways on Twitter. 

“As a current ASI executive member and someone who ran for a position last year, I find it absolutely despicable that some people would use money to buy people’s votes,” said Kevin James Prill, the vice president of finance.

Election Results

The results were announced in a Facebook livestream on Thursday by ASI election commissioner Aranveer Singh Litt.

Muñiz won the presidential election by a margin of 631 votes, according to official numbers released on Thursday. Zuñiga came in second place with 877 votes and Estrada in third with 510 votes. 

Muñiz shared her thoughts of the final results in an Instagram post on Friday. 

“WE did it, Bulldogs! I want to thank the 1,508 students who placed their trust in me to be Fresno State’s next ASI president. With all that is going in today’s world, it means so much to me that students took time out of their busy day to believe in my message of affordability, accessibility, community and safety,” Muñiz said. “I pledge to be a tireless advocate for all students, regardless of their voting preference.”

Third-year criminology major and ASI senator Fidel Moreno-Meza also shared his thoughts after being announced as the next vice president of external affairs. Meza received 1,841 votes, and Jose C. Aceves came in second place with 968 votes.

“I am incredibly honored to have been elected by the student body to represent them. I plan to continue where our previous Vice President of External Affairs left off, by continuing to advocate for students needs. There are so many issues that go unnoticed or not talked about and they deserve more attention,” Moreno-Meza said. “My campaign was based on five pillars, awareness, accessibility, affordability, inclusivity, and involvement. I plan to work on these and many other issues during my term.”

Nicholas L. Moore said he is excited to be the new vice president of finance. Moore received 2,741 votes — the most votes for any candidate in the election while running unopposed.

“I am really excited to be taking on this position. During my time as the VP of Finance I hope to make clubs aware of all of what ASI has to offer such as the different grants available,” Moore said. “I am a sophomore biochemistry major and I worked with the previous VP of Finance over the past year as a part of the finance committee while serving as the Senator of Student Affairs.”

The 2020-2021 ASI elections drew a total of 2,991 votes, 13.46 percent of eligible student voters, according to ASI.

This year’s voter turnout was once again down from the previous year’s election, which drew 15.01 percent of eligible voters.

Here are the results of the 2020 ASI Elections. The votes were tallied by the League of Women Voters.

President: Ruby V. Muñiz

Vice President of External Affairs: Fidel Moreno-Meza

Vice President of Finance: Nicholas L. Moore

College of Arts and Humanities: Stephanie Ramos Alcantar

Craig School of Business: Narek Khatchikian

Jordan College of Ag Sciences and Technology: Anthony Camacho

Kremen School of Education: Laila Elreedi

Lyles College of Engineering: Haya Qutob

College of Science and Mathematics: Mandeep Kaur

College of Social Sciences: Samantha K. Bautista

Senators At-Large (Top 11): Jason Vang, Tanzila Alam, Fernando R. Garcia, Taj A. Harris, Navleen K. Brar, Allison Bacani, Karen M. Carillo, Sam Smith, Na L. Xiong, Hisham A. Qutob, Malakeh G. Jaber

Story will be updated.

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