“Preposterous”: YDSA-sponsored SGA candidates accused of defamation and campaign misconduct

All three YDSA-endorsed candidates were accused of multiple campaign violations during spring break. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

Elise Gregg | Editor-in-Chief

Over spring break, several legislative candidates for student government found themselves stuck in a 72-hour rut following yet another round of accusations of election violations. 

These candidates, all endorsed by Young Democratic Socialists of America at FIU, were accused of defaming the university through flyers posted in prohibited areas around the Modesto Maidique Campus. 

Former SGA senator Matthew Gaynor made these accusations at a Feb. 26 elections board meeting, along with accusing the three of campaigning in university housing at a socialist craft night hosted by YDSA. 

Supposedly, there were posters of the candidates at the event.

PantherNOW reached out for comment from College Republicans, which Gaynor is vice president of. They did not respond before publication. 

“There was a printed out sheet that contains a picture of our faces,” College of Arts, Science and Education incumbent senator Daniel Salup-Cid told PantherNOW, saying that it only showed the candidates – there was no messaging encouraging students to vote for them. 

Gaynor, according to meeting minutes, wanted to board to land on a tier one violation, which would disqualify all three candidates entirely. 

Salup-Cid argued that a tier one violation disqualifying the candidates would be “preposterous” since they took down the posters quickly and because none of them were present at the craft night. 

Kassandra Toussaint, running for upper division senator, argued that “YDSA members put them up and were taken down 30 minutes after”, claiming there’s no proof the content of the flyers caused damage to the university. 

In her closing statement, she added that the posters have been up for months and that if the university had wanted to take legal action, they would have done so long ago.

Salup-Cid claimed it was their “ first time seeing the photos of the flyers posted on the pillars” and “the second that they were made aware, it was taken down.”

“Slander is overexaggerating,” his statements read in the minutes regarding the content of the posters. “The flyer represents a demand to end genocide. There is no clear sign of defamation at all in regards to FIU.”

One of many posters seen around campus in the last few months highlighting the conflict in Gaza | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

Gaynor, on the other hand, argued that posters calling for divestment “goes against what FIU
stands for because they never said they stood with genocide.”

“There is no proof that the three did not post the flyers themselves or put them on the tables, they
still violate the policy, so it has to be a tier 1 violation,” reads the minutes of Gaynor’s argument. “Posting is posting even if it was for a minute, it breaks the rule.”

Regarding the crafting event, minutes indicate that Gaynor was there himself. 

Upper-division candidate Joncarlo Ospina said during the meeting that “they were accused of breaking 100 feet rule of campaigning in housing but they were not even there but the accuser was there,” finding that “suspicious”.

When asked how Toussaint knew about his presence, she told the board “that others told her that he was there out of curiosity for socialism.”

Gaynor was listed as vice president of College Republicans at FIU in fall of 2023 on their Instagram. Like YDSA, College Republicans is not listed on Panther Connect as an officially registered campus organization. 

Gaynor, according to meeting minutes, claimed students told him the event was to campaign and make flyers. 

Ultimately, the elections board agreed that the candidates’ actions constituted a tier three violation based on negligence, prohibiting them from campaigning for 72 hours. 

Board member Jazmin Laughlin, in agreement with the other members, said during the meeting that the evidence wasn’t enough for a tier one violation and that Gaynor didn’t strongly back up his claims to get the senators disqualified. 

The ban has expired, with YDSA quickly returning to campaign. 

However, according to Salup-Cid, they’ll be back in front of the elections board tomorrow, facing a new bout of accusations from College Republicans president Jacob Aguirre. 

Aguirre, according to emails shared by Salup-Cid, is accusing all three of further campaign violations. He claims they violated the 72-hour ban by not deleting campaign material from their social media — material they posted before the ban.

He also alleges further posting violations for having duplicate posters on one bulletin board.

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