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UA Ballots Recovered; Suspects Questioned by Campus Police

By Reuven M. Lerner
News Editor

A large number of Undergraduate Association election ballots, stolen along with a ballot box on March 11 from a Lobby 7 polling station, were returned in a cardboard box just after 12:15 a.m. today.

An anonymous female caller told The Tech that the ballots could be found "in Lobby 7, on the left-side pedestal, in a cardboard box." A subsequent investigation revealed a closed cardboard box containing a brown garbage bag. Campus Police later confirmed that the box, which was retrieved by Patrolman Paul V. Conway at about 12:30 a.m., contained UA ballots.

At press time, it was not known whether the cardboard box contained all of the stolen ballots, which numbered over 600.

The ballots' reappearance came just a few days after the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs revealed it, not the Campus Police, would take action against four students implicated in the incident.

Three of the four students -- Ross A. Lippert '93, Valerie J. Ohm '93, and Peter S. Yesley '92 -- said yesterday that they each gave Campus Police a statement concerning the theft about one week before spring break.

Campus Police, the UA, and James R. Tewhey, associate dean for residence and campus activities, refused to release, confirm, or deny the names of any of the students involved.

Tewhey explained that he did not want to release the names of any students under investigation because "this will probably be an ongoing case."

Tewhey updated UA President Stacy E. McGeever '93, Vice President J. Paul Kirby '92, and Election Commissioner Raajnish A. Chitaley '95 on the thefts at a meeting earlier this week. While the Dean's Office has implicated a total of five students in the theft, only four had been questioned as of that meeting.

According to Kirby, the UA Council will decide at its next meeting whether to press charges against any or all of the students under investigation. Any hearings resulting from such charges would be held under the auspices of the Dean's Office, rather than the Committee on Discipline, because "the COD is handling academic issues these days," Kirby said.

Neither Kirby nor Chitaley would speculate on what sanctions the UAC would seek to impose. "At the highest level, they can recommend suspension or expulsion," Kirby said. He added, however, that he doubts the council will take this route. "At the worst, they could put someone on probation, something on your transcript, make you work, make you write an apology, [or] make you serve on a UA committee."

The council, according to Kirby, might also ask the students for reimbursement of the $400 spent on preparation for a special election in Lobby 7 on March 13.

"If they just take whatever names they've heard around and decide to fine everyone across the board, I'm not sure that's particularly fair," Lippert said.

"Then again, I can understand them having to recoup whatever losses they've had," he added.

Lippert, Ohm, and Yesley said that they had not been contacted by Campus Police or the Dean's Office since giving their statements.

Split in the revolution

After giving the whereabouts of the ballots, the anonymous caller identified herself as a member of the Student's Revolutionary Government, which took responsibility for the theft. There has been a split among the membership, she added.

Yesley was shocked to hear that the ballots had been returned. "I don't know what happened to the ballots," he said. "I really don't. On the other hand, I was under the impression that they were destroyed."

"How can there be ballots?" Yesley asked. "Unless people are telling lies to me, I don't know what's going on. I guess I've been lied to. I'm starting to get angry."

The caller said the split had occurred because Yesley "doesn't know how to run a revolutionary movement." She added that several of the group's members thought of him as a male chauvinist.

But Yesley was surprised to hear that there had been a split in the movement. "The SRG is a government, and it's a government of students. ... I don't see how there could possibly be any hard feelings. They're my friends."