Vereen considers pressing charges after theft
The campaign banners for Student Government presidential contenders Steve Vereen and Rohail Kazi have gone missing as of Tuesday.
The disappearances came after presidential candidate James Strickland’s banner was stolen over the weekend. Strickland’s campaign replaced his sign Monday but took it down at night, sparing it from the latest acts in the sign-stealing spree. Presidential candidate Joe Wright’s sign was left up overnight, and it survived to see the morning.
Wright said in a press release that he “condemned these actions” and that in solidarity with the other candidates and to ensure fairness, he would be removing his banner from Greene Street as well.
“Those who seek to disrupt this election by taking part in what amount to criminal actions violate the Carolinian Creed,” Wright said. “In light of these events, I have chosen to remove my banner from the wall as well. If we win this election, it will be because we worked the hardest and convinced the greatest number of students that our campaign to ‘Ignite Carolina’ is one worthy of their support.”
Kazi said his banner accounted for a “sizable portion” of the $1,000 budget SG candidates are allowed to spend on elections. He said he would talk to Elections Commission about getting the value of the sign taken off his expenditures, which would allow him to spend more money if he entered the runoffs. Unless one of the four candidates captures over 50 percent of students’ votes, a runoff between the top two vote getters will be held.
“I’m not too fazed by it because it’s kind of the homestretch here and we’ve got a lot of energy,” Kazi said. “It’s just immaturity on the part of some people, and I just wish people would take things a little more seriously sometimes.”
The value of Vereen’s lost sign was measured in time rather than money. His campaign manager Lucy Sass said the campaign team spent over six hours on their hand-painted banner.
“I don’t understand why people don’t just leave them alone; it’s not their property,” said Sass, a fourth-year public relations student. “I hope someone will just be nice and return it, because we really did spend a lot of time on that banner.”
Sass said she plans to inform USCPD and campus safety. She doesn’t know how the loss would affect Vereen’s campaign.
“We still have sunglasses and pens, and we’re still going to get the word out,” Sass said.
Vereen, unlike his campaign manager, said he believes the sign theft had political motivations.
“Seeing that it was three out of the four presidential candidates lost their signs and the rest of the signs were remaining, I’m sure it was pretty deliberate,” Vereen said.
Vereen, however, doesn’t think the sign thief or thieves were part of anyone’s campaign, saying “no one would encourage” such behavior.
“Whoever did it, they have a cool poster hanging in their room that says ‘Believe in Steve,’ so maybe they’ll vote for me,” Vereen said.