CALIFORNIA — Editors at the University of California Los Angeles’ student newspaper are dissatisfied with a ruling from the undergraduate Judicial Board that sidestepped the issue of whether candidates can be punished for giving interviews to the press.
At a hearing last week, The Daily Bruin asked the Judicial Board to determine if the Election Board overstepped its bounds when its chairman warned candidates that they could be sanctioned for appearing on the newspaper’s radio show, “Long Story Short.” After the warning from Chairman Anthony Padilla, three presidential candidates withdrew from planned appearances on the show earlier this month.
In a memorandum announcing their decision, the Judicial Board said that the Election Board does not have jurisdiction over non-paid media election coverage, but also that the board can inform candidates about potential sanctions.
The Judicial Board said in the memorandum that it “recognizes that the Election Board was not clear in communicating with the election candidates about the circumstances of the sanctions.”
Eiton Arom, the Bruin’s opinion editor, argued the newspaper’s stance at the hearing last week and said that Padilla engaged in censorship by using a threat of sanctions to discourage the candidates from appearing on the news segment. Arom criticized the ruling in a column.
While the ruling partially sided with the newspaper, Arom said it is vague and doesn’t directly address the main question: whether the Election Board overstepped its bounds with the emails.
“We wanted the Judicial Board to reaffirm what we saw, which was Anthony Padilla reading the election code in a way that was completely absurd,” Arom said.
Padilla could not be reached for comment.
Arom said the ruling doesn’t set a strong enough precedent to ensure that future election boards won’t repeat what Padilla did.
“It was a cop-out,” Arom said. “It fails to call a spade a spade. There’s no way you can interpret what Anthony did as anything but a threat.”
The Judicial Board will release a full opinion in within two weeks.
Now that the 2014 Election Board’s tenure is over, Daily Bruin editors hope that next year’s student government will amend the election code to specify that media appearances cannot subject candidates to sanctions, said Jillian Beck, The Daily Bruin’s editor-in-chief.
The broadness of current election codes creates an opportunity for overreach, Arom said.
“I think that the fact that there was confusion on this shows that there needs to be clarification,” Arom said.
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