Five days after Dhathruthv Baddam and Isaac Lukose announced their candidacy for student president and vice president, their campaign was hit by a lawsuit for violating COVID-19 rules.
Held on February 22 in Swift Hall, the board was accused of violating COVID-19 guidelines by posting a promotional ad on their Instagram account about “them in campus buildings and not wearing masks, therefore not following the current COVID-19 guidelines, “said minutes of the Election Facilitation Committee (EFC).
That video shows Baddam and Lukose strides through a corridor in Baldwin Hall, initially wearing masks before removing them. The last 17 minutes show the candidates wandering around the Zimmer Hall without masks.
The EFC Committee voted 8-0 on the violation of a rule and 8-0 on the consequences, which involved “the taking down of the campaign video in question, an apology sent on their Instagram from the Baddam / Lukose team within 72 hours after the end of the complaint hearing and a confirmation of the apology sent to the EFC from the Baddam / Lukose campaign. “
During the hearing itself, Baddam admitted that his team was in campus buildings without masks, but suggested that this lack of precaution was part of the campaign’s ethos. “His campaign is being run with the aim of trying not to let COVID-19 take away more of student life,” the EFC consultation protocol states.
Baddam further claimed that the position of his campaign was strengthened by Amazon’s documentary series “The College Tour,” in which, Baddam claimed, “There were several examples of students not complying with the mask provisions of campus buildings.”
None of the arguments were met with sympathy from the committee, to which EFC members replied that “the Baddam / Lukose board could have made the video with the concept of their campaign without also violating COVID-19 policies.”
Similarly, current President April Gable countered Baddam’s claims about “The College Tour”, said that while the episode had just been released, the footage was taken “during the summer,” as “there was no masking mandate in campus buildings at the time of the footage.”
Despite a defiant stance at the beginning of the hearing, both Baddam and his advisers largely accepted the committee’s decision at its conclusion.
Campaign chief and transport director Abhigyan Acherjee said that although “everyone is fully vaccinated”, their vaccination “obviously does not excuse their actions.”
Baddam himself ended the evening by calling the discussion “fair,” and that “the rule has been violated, so it makes sense that his team would have consequences.”
Baddam did not respond to The News Records’ requests for comment on the EFC hearing or its findings.