Three Ms. TCU candidates said they have been barred from today’s ballot because of Facebook groups created on their behalf.Seniors Jill Rutherford, Liz Hamner and Katie Williams all said they received e-mails from Natalie Boone, an assistant director in the Student Center, informing them of their disqualifications because of a rule prohibiting solicitation.
Rutherford and Williams said they were contacted Monday, and Hamner said she was contacted Tuesday. Boone confirmed Wednesday morning that the disqualifications were because of Facebook groups.
All former nominees said groups lobbying for them were created by friends without their knowledge.
“I had no idea it was a rule,” said Rutherford, an advertising/public relations major nominated by Pi Beta Phi. “It’s not fair because the entire campus was not aware of the rule.”
The Mr./Ms. TCU nomination form requires candidates to sign a document stating: “By signing below you indicate your understanding and compliance of the Mr./Ms. TCU guidelines. Violation of any of the conditions outlined in the Homecoming packet or TCU policy is subject to investigation or disqualification.”
Kristen Chapman, a Programming Council special events director, said the nominees violated the guideline stating “solicitation of votes by any method, including Facebook and MySpace, is grounds for disqualification.”
Chapman, a sophomore business major, said groups promoting candidates creates an unfair advantage.
Hamner, a marketing major nominated by Zeta Tau Alpha, said she interpreted the rule differently than the way the university has applied it.
“I thought it meant I couldn’t solicit myself, not that others couldn’t do it for me,” Hamner said. “But I understand that they had a policy that they had to follow.”
Hamner said it is unfortunate she will no longer be able to represent her chapter because of something she had no control over. She said she did not know a friend was creating the group for her. Once she heard about the group, she said she purposely didn’t join it because of the rule.
Williams, an education major nominated by Sigma Kappa, said she also thinks the rule is unclear, but she said she thinks the disqualifications may be reviewed. She had not been notified of any changes as of Wednesday afternoon.
Boone said she would neither confirm nor deny the names of the people disqualified, but said it is too late for organizations who had their representative disqualified to nominate someone new.
“I’d like to keep this as private as possible,” Boone said of her decision not to release the names of the disqualified nominees.
Boone said she searched for Facebook groups promoting candidates and the ones she saw were removed from the competition. She said she understands people may be upset but said the rules are strict and must be followed as much as possible.
Chapman said she agrees.
“It’s very unfortunate, and I wish it hadn’t happened that way,” Chapman said. “But rules are rules, and you can’t bend them or break them.