Correction appended: March 12, 2013.
Campaign season officially began at 5 a.m. Monday for this year’s University Park Undergraduate Association elections, but questions are already being raised about a potential eligibility issue that could cost one of the presidential tickets its spot in the race.
Aaron Dillen and Elias Machina, neither of whom are currently involved in UPUA, are running as one ticket for president and vice president. They’re facing off against UPUA Vice President Katelyn Mullen and Brenden Dooley .
But UPUA commissioners who initially approved the Dillen-Machina ticket are now saying the pair may be ineligible in the election because of Machina’s academic status at University Park.
Machina is listed as a provisional student in the Penn State student directory. According to the handbook found on the Division of Undergraduate Studies website, provisional students are those who are “applicants to degree status who have high school diplomas (or the equivalents) but lack the credentials required for admission as degree candidates.”
According to the UPUA elections code, executive hopefuls must be full-time undergraduate students at University Park and “must have completed two (2) semesters of residential instruction at University Park as a full-time student.”
Dillen and Machina could not be reached for comment as of press time Sunday.
Paul Ferrera, deputy commissioner for administration and enforcement, is in the process of reviewing Machina’s academic status to determine whether it falls within the requirements outlined in the elections code, UPUA Head Elections Commissioner Zang said.
The commissioners will come to a decision shortly, Ferrera (senior-finance) said.
If Machina is deemed ineligible to run, Dillen will also be disqualified. Candidates on the executive ticket are “jointly liable,” Zang (senior-international politics) said.
Zang said he was the commissioner who signed off on the Dillen-Machina ticket, and Machina’s status as a provisional student went unnoticed at first. The stipulation in question, Zang said, was a “requirement [he] had honestly forgotten.”
Zang said the possible violation was brought to the attention of the commissioners by other registrants but declined to release the names of the other applicants, citing privacy concerns.
Dave Harrington (senior-political science), UPUA’s deputy commissioner for candidacy, said Dillen submitted his paperwork for an executive ticket, but initially his running mate was unlisted.
When reviewing applicants, the commissioners typically check that each applicant is a student at University Park and also check that all paperwork and identification information has been properly submitted. The commissioners also look to see if applicants are scheduled to take classes next year and are making steady progress on their degrees. Additionally, the commissioners typically check each candidate’s academic verification, Zang said.
This is not the first time that a potential violation was called into question because of a candidate’s status in school. In the 2011 election, the Adewumi-Pisupati and Grimes-Wentz tickets were found in violation because members of their tickets were freshmen. After an appeal to the Board of Arbitration, the two tickets were allowed to run in the election. Zang said he served as counsel for one of the tickets during the appeal.
The elections commission is not allowed to reopen the registration period, so there is a possibility that the Mullen-Dooley ticket could run unopposed.
If that were to happen, there would only be a few changes to the campaigning process. There would be changes regarding the presidential debates, but other requirements — such as the meet the candidates sessions — would remain unchanged, Zang said.
Mullen said she has been “keeping up with the articles” regarding the possible violation. She said she and Dooley “understand it’s out of our control.”
Her focus is to continue developing her platform and campaign and “focus on the things we have direct control over,” Mullen (junior-supply chain and information systems) said.
Mullen was granted permission by elections commissioners to speak to the Collegian in advance of the official start of campaigning at 5 a.m. today for the purpose of commenting on this situation.
In addition to the two presidential tickets, there are 44 other students running for UPUA positions. There are six candidates running for six open spots as at-large representatives. At-large hopefuls are Laurel Petrulionis, Steffen Blanco, Anthony Panichelli, Evan Riddick, Stephen Payne and Rishi Mittal.
There are 14 students vying for 12 open seats as off-campus representatives. John G. Wortman, Emily McDonald, Dutch Markward, Theodore Ritsick, Mike Augustyn, Scott Tomensky, Chase Englund, Katie Esarey, Gokul Sundar, Pawel Chrzanowski, Kevin Horne, Christopher Birster, Jon Garfield and Michael Kramer are all off-campus candidates.
There are seven open on-campus spots available and eight students have registered to run. They are Caleb Fernandez, Dray Krishnan, Victoria Woods, Richard Herbold, Lindsey Hannon, Shannon Rafferty, Kathryn Taylor and Hannah Lindsay.
There are also several open spots in various academic colleges. Lina Montopoli and Yundi Lang are running for the position as College of Agricultural Science representative. Jeff Holzer is running for the position College of Arts and Architecture representative.
Ryan Belz is running for the position as College of Communications representative. Taylor Olson and Katie Tully are running for the position as Division of Undergraduate Studies representative.
John-Paul Milton, Jacob Maruschok and Dominic Ramunn are running for the position as College of Earth and Mineral Sciences representative.
Tim Rinehart is running for the position of Eberly College of Sciences representative.
Emily Miller is running for the position as College of Education representative.
Melissa McCleery is running for the position as College of the Liberal Arts representative.
Michael Mancini and Kevin Wynosky are running for the position as Schreyer Honors College representative.
Anand Ganjam is running for the position as Smeal College of Business representative.
In total, including the executive tickets, there are 48 students involved in the elections.
Campaigning begins Monday at 5 a.m. and elections will be held from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 27.
Any student registered as an undergraduate at University Park is eligible to vote and all voting will take place online at vote.psu.edu. Students may choose to use their own private computers, but the UPUA elections code makes provisions for a public polling place in the HUB-Robeson Center.
Due to an error on an earlier copy of the UPUA candidates list, an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the position for which Chase Englund is running in this year's elections. Englund is running for a position as off-campus representative.