The three disqualified Ms. TCU candidates are back on the ballot as of Tuesday night. The Student Government Association’s Judicial Board decided to reinstate Katie Williams, Liz Hamner and Jill Rutherford as Ms. TCU candidates because the rule they were disqualified for is too ambiguous to enforce in a fair and judicial manner, said Chief Justice Neal Jackson.
The three seniors were disqualified last week because of promotional Facebook groups created on their behalf. The groups violated a Mr./Ms. TCU guideline that banned solicitation.
The board decided that either the president of Programming Council or the president of SGA needs to clarify the rule regarding Facebook groups as soon as possible, Jackson said.
A new preliminary vote for Ms. TCU will occur Thursday or Friday at the earliest, said Natalie Boone, the SGA adviser to Programming Council.
All three newly-reinstated candidates said they were pleased with the outcome.
“I’m just glad that the three of us are back in,” Hamner said. “Not for the purpose of winning, but it’s just more fair this way.”
Rutherford said she is pleased that all candidates are now being held to the same standards.
Three separate hearings were held Tuesday evening, but the board did not report their decision until all three cases were heard because they were all so closely connected, Jackson said.
Evidence presented at the hearings included e-mails sent to the women about their disqualifications, the Facebook groups that supported the candidates and statements from friends who created the groups.
The Judicial Board also looked at a Facebook group created after the candidates were disqualified that supported all of the remaining Ms. TCU candidates. That group was not taken seriously, Boone said, since she thinks it was created as a joke.
Williams thought the group was pivotal in the decision to reinstate the disqualified candidates.
“That Facebook group was important to the case because it tied it all together,” Williams said. “I think that’s what made them question this the most.”
The three women all argued it was unfair to be punished for other people’s actions, which they had no control over. They also said they felt they followed the rules to the best of their abilities.
Boone, who originally removed the women from the competition, said she is happy they are back in the running and stands behind the Judicial Board’s decision.
The board decided Boone acted fairly to the best of her ability under the rule as it is written, though it decided the rule needs to be revised.