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Monday, August 3, 2020

Selfie with Sabah: AS candidate photo questioned

Most Associated Students presidential candidates are accustomed to campaigning with colorful signs, releasing statements and reaching out on social media with Facebook groups. Candidate Mary Moeller took things one step further by meeting with President Sabah Randhawa to discuss her ideas.

Moeller, the current vice president for business and operations, caught the attention of students on Facebook by posting a selfie with President Randhawa on Wednesday, April 19.

“As I was putting my platform together for my campaign, I wanted to make sure that everything I was suggesting was something we could actually do,” Moeller said, regarding her meeting.

The post from Mary Moeller’s campaign Instagram. // Screenshot courtesy of Erasmus Baxter

Moeller said she and Randhawa discussed food security, housing issues and creating a bias incident response team.

Moeller’s fellow running mates, juniors Sterling Rettke and Simrun Chhabra, did not hold private meetings with President Randhawa.

Rettke said he had no problem with her meeting with Randhawa, realizing that it was a good strategy. However, he said he was concerned with Moeller’s Facebook post.

“Ran my platform past the President of the University Sabah Randhawa! Very excited to work with him on creating a Bias Incident Response Team and solving food insecurity on campus,” Moeller said in the caption on her selfie with Randhawa she posted on social media.

“She really made it seem like he endorsed her,” Rettke said. “I feel like she politicized a lot of things.”

Paul Cocke, director of communications and marketing, said Randhawa does not get involved in AS elections.

“President Randhawa often poses for photos with students. If students then post those photos on social media, he has no control of what is written in the captions or other content,” Cocke said in an email.

Moeller’s position of power as the current vice president for business and operations allowed her to secure this meeting with Randhawa easily, Rettke said.

Chhabra expressed in an email the difficulty of navigating the channels of communication at the administrative level.

“I wish that more students had the opportunity to talk to administration and that talking to higher level administration was more accessible,” Chhabra said. “I was able to speak with Sabah briefly because of lobby day but I wish all the candidates running for every position were given the opportunity to meet with him.”

Cocke confirmed in an email that Moeller had met with Randhawa previously in her role as an AS vice president, and to discuss the Bias Incident Response Team.

“It should be emphasized, however, that the president and the university administration are nonpartisan in all elections, including for AS candidates, and do not endorse candidates,” Cocke said.

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