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George Popko

Administrators at California’s American River College are blocking an independent audit into a student association election that some students believe was defrauded to oust pro-traditional marriage students from office.

As WND reported, student association presidential candidate George Popko is a key member of the incumbent team, which earlier adopted resolutions in support of traditional marriage and against a pro-homosexual “Day of Silence.”

In the most recent Student Association election, however, Popko reportedly lost to a “change” candidate following an unprecedented faculty and administration involvement in the vote. Popko’s Students for Liberty Campaign claims school officials hostile to its political views enforced a newly created voter verification system, offered extra credit to students for voting and even endorsed Popko’s opponents.

Popko then challenged the faculty’s actions, claiming school officials had “hijacked” the election.

Popko told WND, “The administration and faculty have conspired to remove us from office since they don’t approve of the image of ARC as having a conservative student body.”

Following the challenge, the ARC Student Association unanimously passed a bill authorizing an independent audit of the election.

The college’s administration, however, has refused to allow an investigation into election results.

School spokesman Stephen Peithman confirmed the college’s faculty and administrators participated in the election for the first time but said it was because only they could run a checklist of students who were given ballots.

“There was no administrative interference [in the election],” he said.

The Students for Liberty claim that despite the unanimous vote for an independent audit, school officials have refused to permit it, arguing that the student association has no authority to enter into a hired contract with an independent auditor.

Popko, however, cites previous student association contracts – including a current contract for office equipment – and believes the administration “hijacking” is simply continuing.

“The democratic process at ARC has been put in jeopardy,” Popko said in a statement, “and such corruption within government education, especially in college, a place that should be a marketplace of ideas, should not be reflective of the kind of harassment and intimidation that goes on in communist countries, such as the former U.S.S.R., where I escaped from.”

Popko is part of a large contingent of Eastern European students at the college. According to the “ARC Institutional Self Study Report in Support of Reaffirmation of Accreditation,” of the more than 43,000 students enrolled at the college, more than 15,000 report Russian as their primary language, with an additional 5,700 who speak Ukrainian and 2,000 identified as Romanian speakers.

According the posted results of the election, Popko, the ARC Students for Liberty Campaign’s candidate for student association president, garnered 1,302 votes, and the ARC Students for Change candidate, David L. Fisher, received 1,484.

The Students for Liberty Campaign has announced it will not concede the election until its challenge is resolved. The changeover in student administration is scheduled in June.

 


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