Hostile election week concludes with SFC victory

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SFC win overshadowed by dishonorable election conduct

A mild morning on the vibrant, green lawn of the quad turned into turmoil when classes resumed on April 13 as members of the Independent Alliance and Students for Change confronted one another about each party’s allegedly dirty campaign tactics.

In the tradition of election week, each party tagged the sidewalk with chalk murals and campaign slogans. However, many tags were visibly smeared and erased, causing upset between the parties.

While SFC’s near clean sweep was announced later in the week, the various actions by candidates and supporters left a damper on what is meant to be a display of inter-student democracy.

Hosay Mehnat was an IA candidate for the Faculty Disciplinary Committee. On Monday morning of election week, she was one of many candidates and supporters who were forced to guard their chalk murals after their tags were allegedly erased or defaced with water.

“Yesterday at 11 p.m. a bunch of us were on our knees doing this and it took a lot of work,” Mehnat said.

IA candidate, Mursal Khan, also gathered with fellow candidates to inspect the damage.

“If you look at [the mural] it has IA all around it and in the middle they just put SFC,” Khan said.

He said SFC members were allegedly filling up buckets of water in the Student Union with intentions to erase IA tags and murals.

These erasures were visible on the path from Rosenthal Library all the way down to Kiely Hall, but it was unclear who caused the damage. SFC tags were also erased or smeared.

Erica Davis, newly elected Senate at Large official, was walking around the quad that morning with fellow SFC members. She had a spray bottle and chalk in hand, but she said she replacing the SFC tags that were allegedly replaced with IA symbols overnight.

“The only places we’re going with water are our hard work where our names have been replaced,” Davis said. “We’re just putting them back.”

Davis said she witnessed her own friend, an IA candidate, spitting on a SFC mural.

“I just had [her] come up to me and admit that she was spitting on our murals. I asked, ‘Why?’ and she said, ‘I don’t know, seemed like the right thing to do.’”

Mehnat spoke with Davis about this issue and agreed that behavior on both sides was inappropriate.

“There’s members of each party that when the heat of elections come about they act in ways they don’t normally act, but it’s our responsibility to control them,” Mehnat said.

However, multiple confrontations erupted later in the week, some of which were recorded and posted on YouTube and Facebook.

Michael Bento, administrator of Queens College Memes on Facebook, posted a video showing one student holding another in a chokehold in front of a crowd of students. When the student being held wriggled away, his attacker then proceeded to throw a bottle of water on him.

The students could not be identified as members of either party. The video was later removed from the page.

Bento alleged it was an IA member attacking a SFC member. However, many other posts on QC Memes displayed bias toward SFC with numerous unsupported accusations, discriminatory comments and outright insults aimed at IA members and supporters.

“SFC has won the student government elections. F**k off IA, you suck!” Bento wrote in a post on April 17.

Davis said SFC came out and actively condemned QC Memes’ posts on Facebook.

“We saw to it that when he posted something we saw as discriminatory he took it down,” she said. “We made sure people knew it wasn’t in our name.”

Many posts, such as his post on April 17, remain on the Facebook page at this time.

Davis said another popular Facebook page, Queens College Secrets, showed a bias toward SFC. Many SFC members were allegedly blocked from commenting on posts directed against their party. However, unlike Bento’s page, the posts on QC Secrets are written by QC students instead of one sole administrator. The administrator of QC Secrets is unknown at this time.

Another video, filmed at SFC’s headquarters, was also released during election week. In it, current SFC official John Khalily rips up an IA platform card while shouting, “IA baby!”

John Khalily, current SFC official, rips up an IA platform card during election week while shouting, "IA baby!" in YouTube video.
John Khalily, current SFC official, rips up an IA platform card during election week while shouting, “IA baby!” in YouTube video.

IA members were generally disturbed by the act of disrespect and lack of sportsmanship.

“Hardworking and dedicated members of Independent Alliance paid for these platforms out of their pockets, in order to inform Queens College students about our party two weeks in advance,” an IA member said, referring to the video. “To see this handwork be ripped up into shreds by a member of our current student government is a shame. I honestly don’t know what to say.”

SFC, including current SA President Raj Maheshwari and his successor Christopher Labial, did not respond to inquiries about the videos.

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