The Undergraduate Council of Students executive board members validated 301 signatures on a petition to initiate a recall election of President Ricky Zhong ’23 Monday night, according to UCS Elections Co-Director Joon Nam ’23. The recall election will take place within two weeks, according to a UCS email sent to the undergraduate community.
“It is important to stress that the rules and regulations of this recall election have not yet been set,” he added. “Details will be released later in the week … which will be determined by the UCS elections committee, alongside the Student Activities Office.”
The petition was started in September by Christopher Vanderpool ’24 shortly after UCS e-board members expressed concerns about internal proceedings and Vanderpool published a Herald op-ed criticizing UCS administration, The Herald previously reported.
“This isn’t about personal vendetta,” Vanderpool said. “This is about principle, and it’s about upholding the rules and the laws that we’ve written down and making sure there’s accountability.”
“I believe that most if not all of us on UCS understood that the claims in the petition are false and made in bad faith, but we wanted to make sure students felt heard and respected in this matter using their own voice,” Zhong wrote in a statement he posted on Instagram Tuesday morning.
In the statement, he listed initiatives accomplished during his presidency — including the new mailroom monitor and the continuation of free laundry — and asked students to “vote ‘no’ on the recall ballot.” Zhong alleged that Vanderpool “abused his power and postered his misinformation all around (his) dorm in places only Community Coordinators have access to.”
“I only placed posters in publicly accessible spaces of Brown University buildings. I did not place any posters inside of any residential spaces,” Vanderpool wrote in a statement he shared with The Herald, responding to Zhong’s statement this morning. “I’m not sure how (Zhong) constructed this idea that I placed items in exclusive places in the building accessible only to (me), as those simply do not exist.”
“Throughout this recall process, I have committed myself to telling the truth in all statements, conversations, advertisements and petitions that I have used,” Vanderpool wrote.
The UCS Code of Operations stipulates that 300 signatures are required to start a recall election, which Vanderpool’s petition met at the end of last semester, The Herald previously reported. But UCS has to verify both the signatures and the petition itself for the election to happen.
Vanderpool presented the petition at the final UCS meeting last semester but was unable to present the signatures because there were not enough e-board members present at the meeting for the proceedings to be valid, The Herald previously reported. He also rejected a signature “pre-verification” that could have been done before the first e-board meeting this semester to “protect the identities of those who signed.”
According to Nam, e-board members who were not present at the final meeting last semester were provided with a recording transcript of Vanderpool’s presentation.
During Monday’s meeting, UCS Elections Co-Directors Nam and Eli Sporn ’24 independently verified both the physical and electronic signatures provided by Vanderpool, according to Nam.
Each of the 301 approved signatures was checked using the Brown directory and the Brown email system, Nam added. Vanderpool said that they also referenced StarRez, Brown’s housing portal, because he had access as a Community Coordinator.
During the verification process, Nam and Sporn ensured that the petition had at least 300 signatures from undergraduate students enrolled at the time of signing, paying particular attention to avoid double counting.
Vanderpool initially had 306 signatures, but Nam and Sporn were unable to verify several names due to double-signing or illegible handwriting. As a result, Vanderpool “made a number of phone calls” during the verification process to snag two more signatures, bringing the petition to 301 valid signatures.
According to Nam, other UCS e-board members had “a brief discussion” on the petition itself after they were told that the signatures were verified. He added that part of the discussion was conducted without Zhong’s presence.
The vote was a “simple majority vote” and an option to abstain was provided without counting toward the denominator, Nam said.
When he first heard about the results, Vanderpool said that the moment felt a “culmination of months and months of feelings knowing that (he) was going against the system that inherently didn’t want (the recall election) to happen.”
“The decision-making process (of whether the petition is valid) is very much up to every individual” in the e-board, Zhong said in an interview with The Herald before the meeting. “If there are points in the recall that are incorrect, that are misleading, that are false, then those are grounds to invalidate the” proceedings.
Nam said that UCS e-board members were concerned with upholding democracy by “giving students the power to vote” and “ensuring that the undergraduate population would have their signatures” be heard.
“We want and are most concerned with controlling the spread of misinformation in this election,” he added. “We will be striving to create the most equitable and fair environment.”
Jan. 31, 11:27 a.m: Story updated to include new comment from Zhong
Jan. 31, 6:12 p.m: Story updated to include response from Vanderpool
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Kathy Wang is a University News editor who oversees the student government and international student life beats. She is a sophomore from Beijing, China studying Nonfiction Writing and Comparative Literature.