Honor Code violation snarls BYU election

Candidate's withdrawal disqualifies front-runner

Published: Wednesday, March 9 2005 1:03 p.m. MST

PROVO — A very public Honor Code violation has sidelined two more Brigham Young University students.

This time, though, they aren't athletes.

And one didn't even commit a violation.

SIZE="2">BYU's honor code

Jason Smith handily won the primary election early last week and was favored to be BYU's next student-body president, but his ticket was disqualified when his vice presidential candidate, J. Griggs, withdrew.

Griggs dropped out of the race before the polls closed in the final election Friday after the Honor Code Office placed him on probation for violating curfew.

Smith and Griggs may never know if they earned a majority of the 5,123 votes cast by students because a BYU administrator has decided not to release the results. Instead, the BYU Student Service Association Elections Committee voted 7-1 to declare the other ticket, Adam Larson and Chrissie Sant, the winners.

"When J. withdrew from the election, the Smith-Griggs team was disqualified before the election process concluded," university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said. "Once the BYUSA elections committee voted to award the election to the other finalist team, the elections had concluded before the polls closed."

Candidates are told repeatedly that one member of a ticket cannot win without the other, Jenkins said.

Smith appealed the elections committee's decision, but his appeal was denied Monday.

Students continued to gather names Tuesday for a petition to present to Vern Heperi, the dean of student life. The petition asks Heperi to release the election results and install the top vote-getter as president.

However, Jenkins said Monday's review finalized the decision, and Smith refused to support the petition effort.

"At this point," Smith said, "I think what is best for all of us is that we get behind Adam and Chrissie, the next student-body president of BYU."

Smith says a second run next year, when he will be a senior, is a possibility. The political science major from Ashburn, Va., would remain on campus for an additional year to fulfill a dream.

"I don't know if I will run again, but it's definitely on the table," he said. "It's still an option."

Smith's dream appeared close to fruition March 1 when he and Griggs earned 30 percent of the primary vote. Larson and Sant finished with 21 percent. The two teams squared off in the final election, which began a week ago, with polls scheduled to close Friday at 5 p.m.

But on Thursday, Griggs learned the Honor Code Office was looking into an allegation by another student that Griggs had violated the Honor Code. The Honor Code Office placed him on probation Friday, and Griggs withdrew from the race.

Griggs said he breached a curfew regulation. Jenkins said Griggs violated the Honor Code policy on residential living standards. The policy requires single students to leave the apartments of students of the opposite gender by midnight on weekdays. Friday night visiting hours extend to 1:30 a.m.

Griggs can continue to attend BYU while on probation. However, students cannot run for BYUSA office if they are not in good standing academically or with the Honor Code Office.

"Until Friday, J. and I had been fully qualified," Smith said. "They do an Honor Code check and an academic standing check before the election."

Larson and Sant will take office at the end of the semester. Larson said they will consider appointing Smith to a BYUSA position next year if he applies this week. Smith is the executive director of public relations this year.

"It's unfortunate what he had to go through," Larson said.

The president-elect agreed with the decision not to release the vote results.

"If they release them and we were ahead, it would make Smith and Griggs look really dumb for making a big deal of it," Larson said. "If they show Smith and Griggs were ahead, it would make us look really dumb for being in office. It's a lose-lose situation.

"The decision is going to save the image of all the candidates and it's going to save the image of the organization as well."


E-mail: twalch@desnews.com

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