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Elections official confirms Parikh '11 tore down rivals' posters

UFB vice chair candidate asked to get back on ballot, then changed his mind

 Elections Board Chair Lily Tran '10 confirmed Thursday that Neil Parikh '11, a candidate for Undergraduate Finance Board vice chair, was caught removing posters of other student government candidates on Tuesday night, and that she and another member of the board "suggested" that he withdraw his name from the race.

Parikh submitted his resignation from the race late Tuesday night, but on Wednesday, Tran said, asked to be re-added to the ballot, only to change his mind yet again.

Parikh was spotted tearing down publicity posters for Juan Vasconez '10, his only opponent for UFB vice chair, as well as for Jose Vasconez '10 — Juan's brother and a candidate for UFB chair. The person who witnessed the incident sent a text message to one of the Vasconez brothers, Tran said.

When Tran and Elections Board Vice-Chair Zachary Langway '09 learned about the accusation from the Vasconez brother, they telephoned Parikh. Parikh then admitted that he tore down the posters and said he did so out of anger, according to Tran.

He then apologized to the Vasconez brothers, Tran said.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Parikh said he would not elaborate on his "personal reasons" for withdrawing until after the polls closed at 12 p.m. on Thursday, "to keep it fair to all sides involved." He did not return a phone call on Thursday asking for comment.

Tran and Langway recommended that Parikh submit his resignation from the race rather than face a formal hearing in front of the entire Elections Board, Tran said.

Parikh informed the group late that night that he had decided to withdraw his name from the ballot, according to Tran.

"Technically, under the (Elections Board) code, any rules violation is grounds for disqualification," Tran said.

Senior Director for Student Engagement Ricky Gresh, who oversees the Student Activities Office, contacted Tran on Wednesday to discuss what had happened, Tran said. She said Gresh asked to talk to other board members in order to learn more about the incident.

In an e-mail to The Herald Thursday evening, Gresh wrote that he could not comment on the circumstances surrounding Parikh's withdrawl. "Elections are a student-led process," he wrote.

Later that day, Tran said, Parikh called both her and Langway separately to say he wanted to rescind his withdrawal and have his name put back on the ballot. Parikh claimed he did not violate any rules by tearing down the posters because he thought the advertisements had been posted in a way inconsistent with the rules governing the campaign, Tran said.

"The first time we spoke to Neil, he made no such claim," she said.

The Elections Board guidelines use the same postering regulations as the Students Activities Office.

"Posters may be placed only on bulletin boards or other spaces provided for that purpose," the regulations state. "Posters may not be attached to doors, walls, window (sic), gates, sidewalks, benches or other places not designated for poster placement."

At least one poster Parikh was seen removing was on a Wriston Quadrangle door, according to Tran and two other sources — a former executive board member of the Undergraduate Council of Students and another student close to the election process, who asked to remain anonymous.

But Tran said she believed the postering restrictions did not apply to UCS and UFB candidates' publicity posters, and that in any event she disapproved of Parikh's behavior.

"We thought the candidates should be subjected to a higher ethical standard," Tran said.

Wednesday afternoon, Langway informed Parikh that the Elections Board would schedule an emergency meeting to decide how to proceed with his attempt to get back on the ballot, Tran said.

But just 10 minutes after he and Parikh spoke, Parikh called Langway back to say he no longer wanted to get back in the race, she said.

Tran said the Elections Board would hold a special meeting at 9 p.m. tonight to discuss how to handle the vice-chair race, including whether or not there will be a run-off.

The Elections Board will announce the results of all the UCS and UFB elections at midnight tonight on the steps of Faunce House.



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