‘Pearleygate:’ Punish Nath and Nelson, too

The campus needs assurance that MSA is acting to prevent conflicts of interest.

In a disgusting display of self-interested campus politics, recent actions by Minnesota Student Association members revealed the seedy and disheartening underbelly of the organization meant to represent students’ interests. In addition to already damaging MSA President-elect Tom Zearley’s credibility, the recent MSA scandal exposes severe structural problems. Two key players, Dan Nelson and Jeff Nath, hold multiple positions of power that would bring into question their ability to act objectively. MSA must reorganize to prevent the possibility of impropriety in the future.

Substantiated complaints aimed at All-Campus Elections Commissioners Dan Nelson and Jeff Nath claim Nath and Nelson leaked preliminary results of the recent MSA presidential election. The Zearley-Pierce campaign in turn used real or fabricated election results to possibly sway a close election in their favor. In either case, it is clear Zearley-Pierce used unethical campaign tactics and Nelson and Nash did not act in the interests of the student body.

Dan Nelson also happens to be the Campus Republicans chairman and clearly should not have been allowed to serve as an All-Campus Elections commissioner. Additionally, Nath, who also is MSA vice president, should not have been allowed to serve on the commission.

MSA must be reorganized because Nath and Nelson, as members of the elections commission, are in charge of punishing the Zearley-Pierce campaign and were able to minimize the impact of the penalty imposed. Nath and Nelson fined the Zearley-Pierce campaign a measly $50. The actions of Zearley’s campaign likely swung a very close election; surely a miniscule fine does not go far enough.

Three actions must be taken immediately if MSA is to be of any importance at all in the coming year. Nath and Nelson must be punished for acting so recklessly as to feasibly sway an election. Further evidence must come out before calls for Zearley’s resignation can be justified. The legitimacy of MSA – if any remains – can only be restored if University students are sure that the MSA members who acted with impropriety during their campaigns are barred from serving on MSA. MSA must act to prevent future conflicts of interest.