The Washburn Student Government election board reprimanded the Vince Bowhay and Lacey Keller president and vice president campaign Monday because of a photo appearing on their Facebook group – Vince and Lacey for WSGA.
According to Josh Shald, chair of the election board, a complaint came anonymously from a student who said they were offended by a super-imposed picture of Bowhay and Keller with the Wu-Tang Clan, a group of black rappers that were popular in the ’90s. The picture prompted what some are calling inappropriate racial comments to be posted below the picture.
“The action [asking them to take down the photo] wasn’t about the student complaint, they just pointed it out,” said Shald. “The action was taken because of the picture.”
Keller and Bowhay said they put the picture on their Facebook group because they thought the pun Wu-Tang Clan was funny – WU standing for Washburn University. Keller said she commented on the photo – saying it was the funniest thing she had ever seen, but had not read the other comments on the photo that resulted in the board asking them to take the photo down.
“Facebook is rough because things change so quickly on it that you don’t even know they are happening before you get in trouble for it,” said Keller.
The board decided on Monday this picture had to be taken off of the Facebook group immediately, and threatened to discontinue Facebook campaign groups altogether if other pictures or comments were posted like this.
According to the WSGA constitution, all campaign materials must be approved by the board to make sure WSGA is being properly represented. Bowhay and Keller hadn’t gotten the photo approved by the board before placing it on Facebook.
Bowhay said he wishes there was a meeting before campaign announcements with the board, to make sure all of the candidates understood the rules accurately.
“Usually you do something and find out it wasn’t alright to do,” said Keller, adding the campaign rules, especially the ones about Facebook, aren’t very clear in the constitution.
The board has said Facebook groups which support the candidates are allowed, but the content will be the responsibility of the candidates.
“That’s why we ask they turn off the [comment sections],” said Shald. “That way a third party can’t come in and edit the content to a way they can’t supervise.”
Keller and Bowhay said they extend their apologies to anyone who was offended by the comments, as they said they were clearly not intending that.
“We are not racist people in any shape or form,” said Keller.