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Some SSU students, faculty push for investigation into student center vote

A dispute over whether a Sonoma State University student election was conducted improperly gained momentum Thursday, with a mathematics professor introducing a resolution before the faculty senate calling for an investigation.

Sharon Cabaniss also said the election results should be suspended until an investigation is done. The resolution will be voted on May 19 by the university's Academic Senate.

Students voted in the April election to pay $150 per semester to help build a $65 million student center. The fee, which will be assessed on students for 30 years beginning in the fall of 2012, was approved on a 59 to 41 percent vote by students. About 37 percent of students voted.

"There were things that happened during that election that were not appropriate," Cabaniss said. She said someone not involved with SSU should conduct the investigation because "I don't think that anyone on campus" can.

Most of the allegations of misconduct were raised by students who campaigned against the fee.

"This is part of the checks and balances we have on campus," Anthony Gallino, a freshman who led the "No" campaign, told the Academic Senate Thursday.

Gallino and faculty supporters of the resolution said that the election was weighted in favor of those favoring the student center fee, noting:

-- That well before the election, SSU auxiliary organizations directed hundreds of thousands of dollars toward the Student Center project, tilting the field in its favor.

Tax records show, for example, that Sonoma State Enterprises, which operates retail and dining services, gave at least $550,000 to the university for "costs associated with construction of a Student Center."

-- That during the campaign, other than the Associated Students Inc., the auxiliary organizations gave money only to the "Yes" campaign, helping it to dominate the "No" side.


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