Brooks files injunction following election
On Sunday, the Union Judiciary issued an injunction preventing Noam Shouster '11 from being sworn in as senator-at-large for five days. During that period, the UJ will discuss Senator-at-Large Andrew Brooks' '09 claims that Shouster's campaign violated election protocol with slander, libel and campaigning without consent of the elections commission.Shouster defeated Brooks in the three-way senator-at-large elections alongside former Ziv Quad Senator Justin Sulsky '09, who was sworn into his new post on Sunday. Shouster received enough votes as a write-in candidate in the first round to be included on the ballot for the second round.
Brooks made clear that he is suing the election commission, headed by Union Secretary Nelson Rutrick '09, which he said failed to disqualify Shouster, not Shouster herself. Brooks said that the offending actions were not committed by Shouster herself, but by her campaign. However, "Candidates are responsible for their campaigns," he said.
Brooks said that although he does not know whether or not the UJ will overturn the election, he wants to hear what the UJ has to say.
Brooks is accusing Shouster's campaign of slander and libel. Rutrick said part of Brooks' complaints included Shouster not meeting with the elections commissioner prior to campaigning. Brooks said that both offenses should warrant disqualification from the election.
Rutrick said the he stands by his decision to allow Shouster to continue in the race and that he encourages candidates to appeal the election commission's decisions. Given the subjective nature of his decision, he said, a lawsuit was inevitable regardless of whether or not he chose to disqualify Shouster.
Brooks said that the Shouster campaign claimed that he is anti-Palestinian and that he has denied Palestinian students their right to a national identity by voting against chartering Brandeis Students for Social Justice in Palestine, claiming that Palestine is not a recognized state. Brooks said that the claim that he is anti-Palestinian is "unfair, untrue and [a] total and complete lie."
Brooks said that he does not deny the existence of the Palestinian nation and that he personally supports the partition of Israel into two separate Israeli and Palestinian states. He said that his comment simply pointed to the fact that Palestine is not an official country. Brooks said that this issue could have been rectified if the club had changed its name to Brandeis Students for Social Justice for the Palestinian People.
Spreading the rumor that he is against Palestine meant that Brooks could lose the vote of the Palestinian students, so he claimed that this was an unlawful attack on his character, he said.
Brooks also said that the Shouster campaign publicized the fact that he voted against spending Union money to buy T-shirts for the Transitional Year Program. Brooks said that he supports the program, but that this resolution included buying T-shirts for professors as well as students, which he believes is a misuse of the Student Activities Fee, which, he maintains, is exclusively for students.
The allegations of slander concerning the claims about Palestine and the T-shirts refer to blog postings made by Adam Hughes '11 and Sahar Massachi '11 on innermostparts.org, a blog developed and run by students, without the support of the campaign, said Shouster. "I read it just like everyone else," she said. "Someone else told me about it."
"Andrew Brooks and Justin Sulsky are two dinosaur reactionaries in the Senate. They are the embodiment of those people who 'treat Student Union Senate as Mock Government Club.' They are simply self-interested roadblocks to progress," wrote Massachi in the blog.
Massachi said that what he wrote was his opinion, not slander. "I am a private citizen expressing my views," he said. He said that he is sorry for offending Brooks and Sulsky and that he personally apologized to both of them. Shouster is in no way responsible for his actions, he said, and Shouster should not be held accountable for them.
"Here we see a person who is trying to defy the clearly expressed will of the people," said Massachi. What's really happening is that Brooks is being a sore loser, he said.
Rutrick gave Shouster, fellow write-in candidate Kaamila Mohamed '11 and the two bloggers a warning by e-mail on April 15, which said that although Shouster and Mohamed are not responsible for these comments, they would be disqualified if they fail to abide by election rules in the future.
Shouster said that she asked the bloggers to remove the offensive material from their site as soon as she saw it. Massachi said that he struck the offending material from the blog, but did not want to remove it completely because to act as if it was never written would be a lie.
Despite Brooks' claims about the Shouster campaign, students supporting Brooks' and Sulsky's campaigns sent e-mails to Students United for Israel regarding Shouster and Mohamed, insinuating that the two candidates are opposed to Israel.
"[Mohamed and Shouster] are involved in Students for Justice in Palestine, and while they are great people, there is no doubt that they would not be friendly toward Israel in their official capacities as members of the Senate," wrote Sara Hammerschlag '10 in one e-mail.
Shouster, who is Israeli, said that she was extremely offended by this comment, and that she supports her country.
Rutrick said that Brooks' second claim, regarding the fact that Shouster campaigned before meeting with him, is unfounded. By definition, write-in candidates have not met with the Commission prior to the first round of elections, Rutrick said. However, Shouster was required to meet with the Commission before entering the second round of elections.
"Every write-in campaign is unorthodox, so it is hard to say if it is unorthodox," Rutrick said.