As the election date for the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) presidential and vice presidential races approach, flyers for the candidates have been posted across campus, some of which have raised questions of accuracy. Chair of the WSA Student Affairs Committee (SAC) Nicole Updegrove ’14, Chair of the WSA Organizational and External Affairs Committee (OEAC) and current WSA vice president Mari Jarris ’14, and Keith Conway ’16 are vying for the presidential spots, while Chair of the WSA Finance and Facilities Committee (FIFAC) Andrew Trexler ’14 and Vice-Chair of the OEAC Chloe Murtagh ’15 are competing for the vice presidential position alongside Updegrove and Jarris, respectively.

There have been several complaints among some WSA members that some of the flyers inaccurately represent the candidates’ projects. According to members interviewed, between the two campaign flyers, the main issue of contention appeared to be Jarris and Murtagh’s statement that they initiated the free online New York Times subscriptions for students.

“The [New York] Times has always fallen under OEAC, which is the committee that Mari and Chloe both serve on,” said Senior Representative on the Student Budget Committee (SBC) Arya Alizadeh ’13. “But the brunt of that work was done last year by myself and the previous chair [Meherazad Sumariwalla ’12] …To my knowledge, the majority of the work was already done, and they just pressed the launch button.”

Academic Affairs Committee Chair Sam Ebb ’13 shared a similar sentiment.

“[The New York Times’ subscription has] been around for a while,” he said. “There was a donor, and we’ve lost some of that funding, so the Student Budget Committee has worked along with the WSA Executive Committee to ensure that we maintain the funding. So I’m not sure how they quite initiated it other than being on the committee that is working on it.”

Student Affairs Committee member Jake Blumenthal ’13 took issue with Jarris and Murtagh’s campaign claim of fighting administrative crackdowns, arguing that Trexler and Updegrove are ultimately more involved with the administration.

However, WSA members also noted that Jarris and Murtagh worked closely with members of the administration in projects last year. Ebb collaborated with Jarris during the establishment of academic minors and confirmed her involvement, as stated on Jarris and Murtagh’s flyer.

“Mari was one of the biggest student forces behind that last year when it was passed by EPC [Education Policy Committee],” he said. “She worked closely with [Andrews Professor of Economics] Joyce Jacobsen, who was the chair at the time. So Mari worked with her to kind of get that passed. Currently, the [person] working on minors [is] me, as the Chair of the Academic Affairs committee. But she was very involved with kind of getting the ball rolling with that last year.”

Ebb also agreed that, as claimed on campaign flyers, Murtagh was involved with the establishment of the new student fundraising organization to support financial aid, Wes to Wes, along with Ellen Paik ’16, who came up with the idea for the program.

Consistent with the claims of campaign flyers, Jarris also oversaw the advent of student oversight in the admissions process, as confirmed by Alizadeh.

“This idea has been toyed with since [my] freshman year, and it’s an idea that’s received a bunch of backlash,” he said. “On the one hand, I was impressed when it came around. On the other [hand], having been here a few years, I question whether it was necessary….That was definitely Mari’s doing, not her idea, but her doing.”

According to a WSA report from this past September, Murtagh had been working on eliminating unfair Fire Safety fines along with Dina Moussa ’12. A University website states that the graduated fine system for violations was implemented by campus Fire Safety for this academic year.

Ebb, Alizadeh, and Blumenthal corroborated the claims made on Trexler and Updegrove’s flyers. Blumenthal spoke in particular about Updegrove’s involvement in blocking automatic suspension for Tour de Franzia participants.

“The ‘Tour suspensions’ was Nicole, and I was working on this with her,” Blumenthal said. “We meet with the Student Life Administrators regularly, every other week, and they brought up all the policies they wanted to do for the Tour. After that we argued pretty hard against it to the point that it changed their minds….She was very strong in terms of making sure they knew that automatic suspensions were ridiculous, wouldn’t work, and would lead to widespread protests.”

According to Alizadeh, Updegrove has also been fighting for student health issues since her first semester on the WSA in the last academic year. With regard to Updegrove’s claim that she helped bring free STI testing to campus, Ebb clarified that because of Obama’s new healthcare law, insurance is required to cover STI testing. Because all University students must have insurance, the testing is therefore free. However, Updegrove worked with administrators to get the direct billing to insurance.

Alizadeh also commented on Trexler’s efforts to persuade Bon Appétit to shift its policies and create a new meal plan for upperclassmen, which is consistent with the claims on Trexler and Updegrove’s campaign flyers. He additionally commented on Trexler’s commitment to student-faculty engagement and his effort to create student-trustee forums, also consistent with the flyers.

Members encouraged voters to critically consider of poster claims. Ebb noted the inherent issues in campaign statements, and the difficulty of trying to fit everything onto a small piece of paper.

“I think it’s good to fact check [the flyers],” he said. “I think there are ways that statements can be interpreted that can be misleading. So it’s important to delve deeper into the stories behind what they’re doing.”

  • Appalled

    This is one of the most appalling, unbiased, dirtiest tricks I’ve ever seen in a WSA election.

    Fascinating that all of these ‘WSA contributors’ are known supporters of Trexler and Updegrove’s campaign, some of whom have personal vendettas against the two (I’ve personally heard this from all of them except one). How is this in any way a fair act of journalism? This not a random sampling of WSA members – it’s members who are looking to tear apart Jarris/Murtagh’s claims.

    WSA projects are often multilateral – several students work together, and always have different opinions on which parts of the projects are more crucial. No one’s lying, or trying to claim they 100% were the driving force behind an idea or implementation. They were involved in all of those projects, and these interviewees trying to claim that is untrue is just a fallacy. What’s happening is that certain WSA members have been conspiring to paint certain candidates in a negative light, and somehow managed to get all of their fellow team members to ‘represent’ the WSA’s opinion, and for good measure throw in a few accomplishments that Trexler and Updegrove have had (Nice touch there, guys. What amazing, spontaneous facts).

    Fun fact? Anyone on the WSA who wasn’t interviewed for this article (ie, the rest of the WSA minus these three people, which is about 30 students) would all tell you that these claims of “fact checking” are a bullshit way to try to convince the student body of something that isn’t true. Shocking that they weren’t interviewed as well. I find it atrocious that 3 students should be allowed to make these statements and claim that the WSA, and by extension the student body, find anything about the posters contentious. It’s simply untrue, and I would hope that the Argus would want to interview those non-contenders in an effort to promote an unbiased report of the campaign, with equal contributions from both sides (After all, if the Argus is going to serve as a vehicle for bashing, might as well let the other side have fighting chance).

    This isn’t right. It’s not trying to check the facts of some poster statements. It’s an underhanded way in which one team is painting an inaccurate picture of the other, and is being given the Argus platform on which to do so. Shame on you, Argus. Shame on you for allowing this to happen. This isn’t news. It’s a tactic, and it’s dirty.

    • Even more appalled

      I completely agree with Appalled’s statements. In addition, I’m a member of the WSA, and I was extremely upset to see Updegrove/Trexler taking credit for projects that I initiated and that the pair had no involvement in (and in some cases, showed distain for) on THEIR OWN campaign posters. If we’re going to get all “Oh my gosh, people are taking credit for stuff they didn’t do”, Nicole Updegrove and Andrew Trexler are just as guilty. Why don’t you write an entire article on THAT?

      A follow up question: why was no one from the Jarris/Murtagh camp interviewed for this article? What happened to The Argus trying to be “unbiased”? Honestly, if I wanted a trashy tabloid, I could just read TMZ or Perez Hilton. And if I wanted Wesleyan news, I could just check Wesleying, since they seem to do more investigative reporting than the Argus at this point.

      • Curious

        I’m curious — which ones did they have no involvement in?

      • ugh

        Ew, can everyone jump off Wesleying’s dick already? Or at least stop trying to pit The Argus against Wesleying? They’re not a news source. They’re a campus blog. They’re admittedly biased. And they’re just as much a part of the problem.

        – Wesleying contributor

      • Annoyed

        Umm…can you give an example of something Trexler and Updegrove took credit for that they didn’t do? All of those things on their flyer check out. Also, can you give an example of someone on the WSA that is FOR Mari/Chloe?

        – WSA member.

    • Sam Ebb

      When the Argus reached out to me, they asked for names of people to talk to and I initially mentioned Grant Tanenbaum (who served on SAC with Chloe, Andrew and Nicole last year and OEAC this year with Chloe and Mari), Scott Elias (who served on SAC with the same three last year and continues on SAC with Nicole now) and Zach Malter (the assembly president). I also gave a 30-40 minute interview with the Argus going point-by-point through both campaign statements that they asked me about (Keith had not put one out at that point as far as I know, but I think they should definitely follow up with him). My intent was what I had talked previously with Mari, Chloe, Nicole and Andrew about: to give backstory on each of the issues. Some of the claims that follow some of my quotes were things added by other members of the assembly speaking off the record (something that those members have since told me). I encourage the Argus to delve deeper into some of my statements that I made about all the points on both sides and not simply pick and choose a couple quotes out of a 30-40 minute interview that presents a somewhat skewed idea of what I said. Furthermore, I directed the Argus to a number of official WSA documents in order to fact check any of my statements. I also told them to follow up with me if they had any questions or thought that I appeared biased in any way.

      • nice try

        sam ebb this is an utter and complete lie. good job throwing others under the bus, though.

  • Appalled

    Additionally, Sam And Arya ran against mari and lost by a ton of votes last year, because people obviously didn’t trust them with WSA matters. Interesting pair to interview.

    • Hrm, uhhh… no.

      I voted for Zach because I thought he was a better candidate, not because I though Arya was incapable or that I didn’t trust him with WSA matters. What the hell does that even mean, anyway?

  • WSA Member ’16

    As a neutral member of the WSA, I find that this article is pretty biased in the people it chose to interview and how it presented Mari/Chloe. I want to echo that no one on the WSA does projects or proposes ideas without the help of other members. The Argus should definitely take the time to actually interview neutral members of the WSA and members that support Mari and Chloe. I also wonder whether or not the Argus journalists that wrote this article took the time to fact check FOR THEMSELVES and not just blindly take Sam/Arya/Jake’s words. If so, great. If not, you definitely should.

    • yo

      by all means, contact the Argus if you’re willing to give your “unbiased” opinion. it sounds like many wsa members were unwilling to speak to the Argus, so please, blame them, and not the news source. if you have a problem with it, step up and add your voice to the mix. That’s the only issue here.

      • Appalled

        I can’t speak for everyone, but the Argus didn’t contact me or any of the other WSA members that support Mari/Chloe that I’ve spoken to. We didn’t know about the article and consciously ‘not speak to anyone’ – we were never asked. The point is that the Argus didn’t just have to contend with some fact that more WSA members support Trex/Updegrove – I know over ten WSA members that support Chloe/Mari, and the three interviewed coincidentally didn’t. Percentages don’t add up.

        And for WSA member, it’s not investigative journalism. Far as I know, the only people that have been complaining about Mari/Chloe’s claims are the three that were interviewed. Not exactly a campus-wide concern. My problem is that the Argus’s interview of three members gave the impression that the entire campus thought Mari/Chloe were lying. That’s misrepresentation, not unbiased reporting.

  • And another thing… ’14

    I agree with “Apalled” and the other statements and I also think it’s a shame that one of the candidates was left completely out of the discussion. Keith Conway is every bit as much a presidential candidate as the other two and yet his name was breezed over in this article. We should at least be giving all of our candidates a moderately equal amount of coverage and not just covering the “favorites” because Keith has some great ideas that have yet to be brought up whatsoever.

    • ugh

      Keith Conway is not every bit as much a presidential candidate as the other two. His “campaign” is a joke. Quit looking for bullshit to get indignant over.

  • Student ’13

    If the commenters above took time to read the article carefully, they would notice that much of what they are saying about it is not fair at all.

    There are several positive statements affirming Mari and Chloe’s accomplishments. The reporters also must have looked at documents rather than just depending on testimony, as shown by the paragraph starting “According to a WSA report from this past September…” And I think we should give the argus the benefit of the doubt that they talked to a lot of WSA members—is it hard to imagine that a bunch of them didn’t want to go on the record? Additionally, there is a paragraph qualifying Nicole’s statement about bringing free STI testing to campus—the article does not just deal with concerns with Mari and Chloe’s posters. Finally, it seems apparent to me that Keith Conway wasn’t mentioned because he doesn’t have any posters up. This is an article about the posters, not the candidates.

    This is very clearly an article addressing factual concerns with campaign flyers, and that’s exactly what it did.

  • WSA Member

    Dear Appalled and Co.,

    Grow the fuck up. This article is a non-biased, well-researched reporting of events that have taken place. The article was written because current WSA members requested it. If you don’t like what the article says, fine. But then don’t hate on the Argus for doing its job, or cast aspersions on the integrity of the authors. To respond to some of the more ridiculous comments…

    – This article does not tear apart Jarris/Murtagh’s campaign. It is reporting on the fact that the entire campus is. Don’t kill the messenger, Marri.

    – Sam Ebb. Stop crying because you got quoted saying something you said.

    – Keith Conway is FUCKING PSI U PLEDGE. He is running because he is FORCED TO by his fraternity brothers, all of whom view the entire thing as a joke. Its not about covering the ‘favorites’ its about covering the ACTUAL CANDIDATES. His campaign isn’t just a joke to constituents, it is quite literally a conscious joke, constructed by Mr. Conway and his entire fraternity.

    Sincerely,

    A well-versed, two-year WSA member who knows all of the candidates/members involved. Point of Personal Privilege: you all are the reason I quit.

    p.s – Student’13 – thank God for some sanity in the senior class.

    • One less pretentious WSA rep

      Regardless of whether you’re right or not, you clearly need some attitude adjustment. With that kind of attitude it’s a good thing you left…

    • Benny D ’14

      Yeah, everyone should chill out about this. The argus did a bit of a number on Mari’s Campaign, but people should read multiple sources (such as the liveblog of tonight’s debate) to decide if that’s justified. This version of the debate doesn’t seem to be moving anywhere fun/productive.

  • WSA members are idiots

    Think about this:

    1) That the members of the WSA who were willing to comment were clearly SENIORS who had been on the WSA for a long time. That literally leaves: Arya, Sam, and Jacob. Likely they didn’t care as much about commenting because they don’t have to maintain working relationships with these people. Thus I’m guessing that a lot of WSA members weren’t willing to speak to the Argus.

    2) That the WSA overwhelming supports Trexler and Updegrove is just a fact that the Argus writers clearly had to contend with.

    3) There are positive things about Mari and Chloe on here?

    4) Now those quoted are trying to cover their asses….

  • Student

    What I have learned from the comments on this article is simple: Wesleyan’s biggest issue is dialogue. Members of this student body do not how to speak each other civilly.

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