Student body presidential candidate Jacob Milich filed a lawsuit March 11 alleging that SGA’s election statutes violated his civil and constitutional rights by attempting to disqualify his candidacy.
Milich, a business management major, received six “election violation affidavits” between Feb. 29 and March 3 from the SGA election commission that stated he broke campaign rules by allegedly “promoting his campaign at several student organizations” prior to his declaration of candidacy, according to university documents.
"The supervisor had no problem with me telling students that I planned to run for president until after I started advocating that the SGA needs to represent the students, not UCF's administration, and that doing so could only be accomplished by eliminating secrecy in student government," Milich said. "After that, they changed their minds about how the election rules worked so I could be removed from the ballot."
In accordance with election policy, candidates are unable to begin promoting their campaigns until after they’ve filed their declaration of candidacy, which requires 300 student signatures. The official declaration can be made no sooner than the eighth week of spring semester, according to SGA election statutes.
The commission is scheduled to rule on the allegations March 16 and March 17.
The lawsuit stated that these rules are an act of “prior restraint on free speech,” and therefore violate his First Amendment rights. Additionally, Milich alleged that the election committee violated state Sunshine Laws and FERPA by failing to provide records of its disciplinary hearings and by providing information to news organizations that “contain his personally identifiable information.”
"The elections statutes are unconstitutional," he said. "Going to court is the only way to have a fair and unbiased hearing, where the people deciding my fate aren't appointed by someone who endorsed my opponent."
Milich seeks a permanent injunction that would prevent SGA from enforcing the aforementioned statues and monetary relief to cover the cost of his attorney.
The lawsuit named several members of the university as defendants, including SGA President Cait Zona, who responded to the lawsuit in a recent Facebook post.
"As per UCF SGA internal procedures, the Student Body President has no role in the election violation hearing process or running SGA's elections," she wrote. "Why I am named personally in litigation is beyond me. As Student Body President, I am confident in the Election Commission, their advisors, and the processes they determine."
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Bernard Wilchusky is the Editor-in-Chief of the Central Florida Future. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cameradudeman.