SGA presidential candidate cleared over student-all email concerns


Michael Crimmins, Investigative reporter

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this headline did not accurately reflect the result of the meeting. The Herald regrets this error.

In a roughly hour-long Zoom meeting Thursday evening, the Student Government Association Judiciary Council voted in favor of Cole Bornefeld’s presidential campaign after several SGA members complained that Bornefeld’s ticket had a self-promotion issue.

Members of the SGA Senate and members of the SGA Judiciary Council met on April 13 to deliberate over a student-wide email sent by Bornefeld.

The email was about the SGA “swipe out hunger” initiative sent by Bornefeld to all WKU students, which is allegedly a violation of SGA election code section 3.5.

The email, from Bornefeld, sent to students on April 12.

“No candidate shall send or solicit any mail, electronic or physical, for self-promotion during the election or campaign period,” the law states.

The problem arose because Bornefeld signed the email with his name and it was sent from his personal email. It was also mentioned that the email was not an official SGA email, and that it did not go through their designated public relations person.

One argument raised by Tess Welch, speaker of the senate, said that it was “self promotion” since members of the campaign used the email to promote his candidacy and a “self serving act” by the campaign.

“It definitely seems to constitute a violation, especially considering it was signed, ‘Best Cole Bornefeld,’” Welch said. “If it was sent from [his] personal email that was signed, ‘your Senators, your representation,’ that would be different because it would be representing an opinion and perspective that comes from the Senate.”

Another concern raised during the hearing was whether or not the email was approved by the executive committee or the public relations person prior to it being sent out. Reed Breunig, SGA administrative vice president, said it was not.

“It was not cleared by any member of the SGA,” Breunig said. “We talked about it in our executive committee, it was never brought up that there was going to be a student all email sent out.”

Bornefeld said he had cleared the email with SGA President Matthew Wininger before sending it out on April 12.

“I did consult with Matthew a couple of weeks back as well, and [said] that this was something that we were planning on sending out with that PR group,” Bornefeld said. “[Wininger has] known that this email was gonna come this week for, gosh, probably about a month or two.”

Wininger was not present during the hearing. Holden Schroeder, SGA chief justice, read his prepared statement at the end of the debate.

“For clarification, these emails do not have to come from a WKU SGA account, nor do they require the approval of an SGA committee or the executive cabinet,” Wininger’s statement read. “Nowhere in the Constitution bylaws or election code does it state that an individual must seek out or be granted approval by the executive cabinet, an SGA committee or the director of PR in order to send a student-all email.”

The email was sent on the 12th week of the semester, and the goal of the email was to “get the donation link into student’s hands.” This proved to be successful as SGA senators said the initiative saw a record number of donations from students after the email was sent.

“I love this initiative. All of [the] Senate loves this initiative,” Preston Romanov, senator-at-large, said. “And so to put this to end, this was planned in February, and this was run through an SGA executive president Wininger.”

To avoid these types of issues in the future, Schroeder said it was worth specifying some campaign laws for next semester’s elections.

“Any student-all emails should be sent during this period through [the] WKU SGA account, not a candidate,” Welch said, with Schroeder agreeing.

Investigative reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @michael_crimm