AUSG Senate Candidate Allegedly Faces Harassment at Town Hall
BY: ALEXIS ARNOLD
Campus Senator-at-Large candidate Yasaman Hakami said nothing is being done about the harassment she allegedly experienced during her campaign. Hakami said she told AUSG Elections Commissioner Jacob DeGoes that some of her campaign posters had been torn down or vandalized. But because there are no bylaws that deal with campaign harassment, she was informed there was nothing that could be done.
During the candidate town hall on Oct. 29, a student asked the candidates about valuing the diversity of opinions. Hakami said there is no room for differences in opinion when it comes to matters of sexism, racism and bigotry. The student who asked the question proceeded to make and hold up a sign that read “Yasaman is a fascist.”
Upon returning to her dorm after the event, Hakami noticed several of her flyers had been torn down while others had been defaced to depict her as the Devil. She described what she saw as “gross” and “dehumanizing.”
Eric Perless, a freshman who was at the town hall, said that he and many others were “deeply disturbed” by what happened to Hakami's poster. Perless said he believes the act was “rooted in an implicit bias towards strong women of color that hold opinions.”
Hakami said she and her campaign team sent three emails to DeGoes about the incident. Each time they were told that there was no way to fully resolve the problem because there are no bylaws that deal with campaign harassment. Hakami said it is a “massive issue” that AUSG lacks legislation on the subject and wants her accusation to be taken seriously. “I at least deserve to have someone to look into it,” she said. AUSG said a statement regarding the issue will be released after voting closes.
Hakami said AUSG President Taylor Dumpson called her after the incident to express her sympathy and empathy. Dumpson described facing similar challenges during her own campaign and gave her advice on how to stay strong.
Fellow senate candidate Genáe Hatcher also expressed her support. She said she thinks harassment of any kind “unacceptable and extremely inappropriate,” but she is proud that Hakami has not allowed the intimidation to stop her from running.
“I don't appreciate hatred,” said Hakami. She fears that this act has affected her supporters as well. “If you're attacking me, then you’re attacking everyone who is willing to vote for me, everyone who is willing to place their hope on me.”
Hakami said she wants to change the status quo while properly advocating for the diverse needs of the student body. “I’m not here to have a resume filler,” she said. “It's about making an impact and changing the dynamic of the conversation.”
Hakami said she wants to work toward a safer and more unified campus that will stand against hate and bigoty. “It starts with the Senate race," she said. "It starts with the people who are trying to represent the entire AU community.”
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