ListenTU suspends campaign, alleges misconduct by TSG members

Elections are scheduled to be held Tuesday and Wednesday.

Candidates for ListenTU (left) suspended their campaign today, alleging ethical violations by TSG members that they say gave an unfair advantage to BloomTU (right). | LISTENTU & BLOOMTU / COURTESY

This is a developing story.

ListenTU has suspended its Temple Student Government executive team campaign days before elections this week in light of alleged ethical violations during the campaign that they say gave a leg up to BloomTU, the opposing team, ListenTU announced today.

The team, comprised of Joseph Crespo, a junior financial planning major, Muhammad Hernandez, an English major, and Aalayah Taylor, a sophomore English major, said members of TSG were biased against ListenTU throughout the campaign and that TSG was not equipped to hold its elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In a series of events leading back prior to the initial start of the campaign implementation period, ListenTU candidates feel the best course of action is withdraw themselves from the race while bringing light to ethical dilemmas before the student body,” the announcement read.

In a statement released on Instagram, BloomTU disputed several of ListenTU’s allegations, calling it “libel towards our campaign or the current administration.”

“In trying times such as these, our obligation as campaigns is to unite the student body. Not divide it,” BloomTU wrote. “We will continue to advocate for the issues we are passionate about,  despite attempts to shift our focus.”

TSG elections are scheduled to be held on April 14 and 15.

In their announcement, ListenTU made light of a series of emails that Taylor exchanged with Rofiat Oseni, TSG’s chief judge, in which Oseni called Taylor “a confused and careless candidate.” 

In the email chain, which was forwarded to The Temple News, Oseni and Taylor spar over TSG’s alleged lack of communication to BloomTU during the campaign, particularly regarding the second executive team debate, which was planned to be hosted by student media outlets on April 13.

“I am emailing you all today to express my concern regarding our current method of receiving crucial information about debates, meetings, etc,” Taylor wrote in her initial email. “I hope that going forward we can work together so that both Presidential campaigns feel supported, equipped, and listened to.”

“I understand your concerns, however, the second debate is ran by Temple News,” Oseni responded. “Furthermore, in my previous email, I stated Tempe News will be moderating the debate and if you have any questions please direct it to them.”

“If you have any questions about elections and campaigning you can direct those questions to the commissioner,” Oseni added.

Taylor wrote back, saying she appreciated Oseni taking responsibility for the lack of communication but that she could not find the email Oseni had referred to.

Oseni responded by sending screenshots of a previous email that stated that the second debate would be run by The Temple News.

“Thanks for providing me with the clarification I needed initially! Going forward consider supplying the important information first and then your feedback,” Taylor wrote in response to Oseni.

“Your end of this email thread reads extremely immature,” Oseni wrote back. “I understand that your team is not as prepared as the other, but that is not my responsibility, it is your team’s. You and BloomTU have received the same information from me, so how is it that you have issues but they do not?”

An email chain between Aalayah Taylor, a vice presidential candidate for ListenTU, and Rofiat Oseni, TSG’s chief judge, exchanged amid TSG’s campaign season. | ROFIAT OSENI / COURTESY

“Do you think CNN relays Fox News debate information to candidates or that the Federal Elections Commission tells candidates about attending debates? No,” Oseni later wrote. “However, we went out of our way to make sure we told you something about who will be hosting the next debate so that a confused and careless candidate like yourself wouldn’t be left in the dark.”

“You need to grow up and step your campaign game up,” Oseni ended the email. “Good luck.”

Taylor was not immediately available for comment.

In an email to The Temple News, Oseni wrote that ListenTU was unaware of the details of the student media-hosted debate and had “virtually no campaign team or endorsing organizations, so likely was just unprepared to run a campaign.”

“Yet Aaliyah was being disrespectful as if I wasn’t doing my job,” Oseni wrote. “In reality, she was just confusedly disrespecting me and I was standing up for myself.”

“As the first female and Black woman chief judge, people have tried to assume I don’t know how to do my job and disrespect me on multiple occasions so I have had to adapt to the circumstances and navigate standing up for myself in this role,” Oseni added.

In their statement, BloomTU said they do not support or endorse Oseni’s comments in the emails.

Student Body President Francesca Capozzi was not immediately available for comment.

ListenTU also wrote in their announcement that Jess Torres, BloomTU’s director of communications and TSG’s director of communications, endorsed BloomTU in comments under a Facebook Live stream of the presidential debate on April 2, an alleged campaign violation for which BloomTU received a warning from TSG.

Torres confirmed that BloomTU received a warning but said TSG decided to not issue any violations to BloomTU because the Elections Code was not clear about whether it was a violation.

TSG’s Elections Code states: “Candidate(s) who also serve on the current Temple Student Government administration are allowed to use their private social media to endorse their own campaign.”

In the announcement, ListenTU also alleges that TSG did not consult with members of their team, and only with members of BloomTU in their decision to continue elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to Temple’s closure of campus last month, the Elections Committee delayed campaigning for more than a week.

In the first debate, Crespo disagreed with TSG’s decision to not delay campaigning several times.  

Chelsea George, TSG’s elections commissioner, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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