The online polls had just opened. Lisa Bifano, president of the Humanities Society and member of the SRA Humanities caucus, posted a 1400-word note to Facebook with her personal “analysis” of each MSU presidential candidate, offering an “inside scoop” on the race.
She ranked her choices, dedicating a paragraph to each hopeful, balancing pros and cons. The top spot went to David Campbell, with Siobhan Stewart coming second, and Alex Ramirez and Mukhtar Galan tied for third.
And when she got to fifth-ranked Chris Erl, with whom she works on the Humanities Society executive and SRA Humanities caucus, she didn’t hold anything back.
She wrote that he was “difficult to work with,” had “hidden agendas” and that she “felt manipulated and cheated” during his campaign. Some of the work he had done, she said, was “merely a step towards reaching his goal of being the next MSU Dictator.. opps [sic] I mean President.”
“It’s disappointing to see somebody in a professional capacity, like the president of the Humanities Society, somebody that I work closely with, say those kinds of things,” said Erl about the Feb. 1 note.
“I’ve had disagreements with her in the past – there are always disagreements in faculty societies, there are disagreements in the Assembly – but it’s disheartening to see somebody say those things during a presidential campaign this late into the campaign,” he said.
In her note, Bifano was careful to note that she was not part of any campaign team, and urged voters to make their own informed decisions about the candidates.
“I think students look to those who have been involved and who have worked with all the candidates for their thoughts and opinions,” said Bifano about the post. “I made sure that I remained very unbiased. By no means am I saying who to vote for; more so, these are my thoughts, here are my experiences, do with it what you will, and I made sure I said that throughout.”
“Everybody knows it’s an extremely close race,” said Erl. “I think what she said was an attempt to try to sway the individuals that she knows, individuals that hold her opinion in high regard, to put me last on the ballot so I have less of a chance of winning.”
Regardless of the election’s outcome, Erl and Bifano will be serving out their terms on both the Humanities Society and SRA until the end of the term. According to Erl, this incident will “ruin our working relationship for the next little while.”