By Zainab Iqbal
Published: May 10th, 2019
The verdict is in. It’s almost 24 hours late, but it’s in. According to the Election Commission, USG President-Elect Carlos Jesus Calzadilla-Palacio indeed did make racist comments about candidate Hamza Khilji. He will be disqualified from being president.
“We spent many days investigating this case and determining a final verdict based on the evidence we were presented with both at the hearing and via email,” the commissioners said in an email obtained by the Excelsior. “Based on all the evidence we have compiled, we held a vote last night to determine the outcome of the case. The commission voted in the majority to find the defendant, Carlos Calzadilla, guilty of the violations brought forth against him on the basis of evidence provided by multiple sources who have worked closely with the offender in the past and present. We revoke the offender’s candidacy.”
The decision was supposed to be announced at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 9th. The Election Commission did not respond to The Excelsior’s emails as to why it was being delayed. At about close to 5 p.m. on Friday, an email was finally sent out.
“The offender shall have the right to apply for eligibility to participate in USG one year following the conviction,” the email said. “Moving forward, the defendant now has the opportunity to submit an appeal if he wishes to do so. We encourage you to reach out to us with any questions you might have regarding our decision and regarding the case.”
The entire fiasco began when Khilji became aware that Calzadilla-Palacio was spreading rumors about him saying Khilji won’t take the stipend because he comes from a rich family that owns an oil company. The comment was racist as Khilji is a brown Muslim man, whose family does not own an oil company. At the Election Commission hearing last week, he noted that his family wasn’t even rich. The Excelsior had verified from three people that Calzadilla-Palacio told them about the oil comment directly. But when that was brought up at the hearing, Calzadilla-Palacio still denied ever making such comments.
“As expected, in a majority decision, the Election Commission ruled against us in the investigation of these false allegations. It comes as no surprise considering their biased relation to the runner-up campaign,” Calzadilla-Palacio told the Excelsior. “This is a dark day for democracy at Brooklyn College and we will be appealing the decision to CWERC, calling for a real, impartial investigation. We will not allow the students’ voice to be overturned. We were the democratically elected campaign by an overwhelming majority of students who voted, and we look forward to serving the undergraduate student body.”
What happens next? Calzadilla-Palacio will appeal the decision. Decisions made by the Commission may be appealed to C.W.E.R.C. Decisions made by C.W.E.R.C may be appealed to President Michelle Anderson. Decisions made by Anderson may be appealed to the CUNY Board of Trustees. According to the election rules, the candidacy will go to the candidate with the second highest votes — Alyssa Taylor.
“It feels nice seeing that accountability still exists on this campus. I want to thank the few, truly loyal, and real friends, that I had supporting me. They were extremely loyal and I couldn’t have gotten through this brutal process without them,” Khilji told the Excelsior. “I do want to reply to those who felt this was a waste of time or not the correct way to do things because of ‘democracy.’ First, the investigation itself and following the rules are important to upholding democracy. Second, I keenly remember the multiple times on this campus that many of the same students against this investigation protested and rallied against professors who allegedly made racist remarks, asking to have them fired.”
“I would have hoped that those same students would stand up for the same cause in this difficult time, especially considering the importance of the presidential position in the new USG, but it was upsetting to see political alliances misconstrue fighting for the right cause.”
“This was never about me getting into office. It was always about holding people accountable, and it was very difficult because there were several times along the way I was told to give up, to stop wasting time, and to just let it go. I hope the message received from the result is that due process still exists and that if an injustice is committed, one should not be afraid to stand up for it because if one is, many more injustices will occur uncontested.”