Recent investigation at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) prompted the authorities to throw light on an event that caused hundreds of international students to be deprived of their voting rights.
According to the Student Justice Coalition (SJC) constituted at the university, at least 450 students were denied to cast their votes in the Spring 2019 election as they encountered errors that resulted in incomplete ballots or altogether prevented them from voting.
The election sought to construct a Student Representative for the University Of Illinois Board Of Trustees, the Undergraduate Student Government President, Vice President, and Representatives, members of the Student Senate as well as a referendum on student fees. It was conducted electronically over a time period of two days in the month of April in the university’s website.
However, hours after the election had begun, the Dean of Students Office released a statement that the issues concerning the election were resolved. The same problems reportedly continued to persist throughout the election, primarily targeting international students and those enrolled in the UIC Global program.
Following the election, both candidates standing in the election as well as the concerned students held a meeting to discuss the situation and formed a coalition to conduct a probe into the election system. The resulting investigation, which included meetings with administrators, information requests and student interviews, revealed gross negligence in the election process.
The SJC concluded that the inquiry found out that the election did not adhere to a free and fair democratic process. The election process was deemed to be unconstitutional according to the Undergraduate Student Government Constitution.
The UIC April 2019 Student Election and its results were declared illegitimate because the election process was found lacking an open judicial review to address and resolve issues. The Dean of Students Office, which initially downplayed the situation, eventually confessed voter disenfranchisement.
The SJC discovered that Banner, the coding of non-degree students did not permit them to vote for the Undergraduate Student Government and Student Senate positions. 48 non-degree, UIC Global students were found to attempt and fail to vote in the Student Elections.
The Student Justice Coalition stated that the disenfranchisement of international students harmed a group of students that had past issues with the University of Illinois System. The System has been accused of profiteering off of this aforesaid group of students.
The situation is now considered as a blatant violation of student rights and a disregard for democratic principles. In an era, where the entire nation was shaken apart by the disenfranchisement of voters, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) came under heavy criticism for failing to abide by democratic principles.
The Student Justice Coalition (SJC) is now demanding prompt action from the campus administration in this regard. A petition is drawn up by the concerned students to voice their problem. The SJC is in the process of taking measures so that in the future, undergraduate non-degree students will be allowed to vote for all positions on the ballot.