Schara-Haberberger suspend Greek chapter Twitter contest after controversy

The slate said it wanted to do something long-lasting with its campaign money.

Missouri Students Association presidential slate Schara-Haberberger plans to suspend its Twitter competition Friday. Thursday, an email was sent to various Greek Life leaders promising philanthropy donations to whichever Greek chapter tweeted about the slate the most.

David Wettroth, the Board of Elections Commissioners chairman, said in an email that the email in question had been sent without the slate’s knowledge and thus required no punitive measures. He said he instructed the slate to retract the initial email and to suspend the contest indefinitely.

Juniors Mason Schara and Kelsey Haberberger said they never intended for it to be a method for soliciting votes. “The idea behind the Twitter competition was to raise awareness about the upcoming election,” Haberberger said. “The original competition was going to be over before the polls even opened, and then the sorority with the most participation would receive a donation towards their philanthropy.”

Haberberger said that the competition was intended to be a way to give back to the Columbia community.

“In the philanthropic events that Mason (Schara) and I have both been a part of on campus, this is something that is very near and dear to our hearts, which is why we decided to give back to the philanthropies in hopes of kind of giving back to the Columbia community that has given us so much,” Haberberger said.

After meeting with Wettroth, the slate said it has decided to suspend the Twitter competition.

"The Twitter competition will not exist,” Haberberger said. “We wanted to apologize for any miscommunication that there was. It was never our intention to come off in a harsh or harmful way, or to make it seem like this had malintentions.”

The slate said that it plans to continue encouraging MU’s Greek community to participate in the election.

“We’re going to continue doing our speakings at sororities and fraternities,” Schara said. “We’re going to continue encouraging all members of Greek Life to look into all the different slates, to really educate themselves and to really be aware of what they’re voting on, (to) vote on what they’re passionate about. Don’t vote off of names, vote off of what they really want to stand behind.”

Haberberger said they have every intention of being parts off as many philanthropy events on campus as possible.

“We really want other members of both the Greek community and non-Greek community, really everyone, to make sure that they are still spotlighted," she said. "And that everyone has a chance to participate, which is what Mason and I were wanting to do, was to raise awareness. So we hope that we can still be a part of these wonderful organizations.”

Schara said in determining how they would use campaign funds, the Twitter competition was intended to provide supporters with something more valuable than typical to a presidential campaign.

“We really wanted to give people something that wasn’t a throwaway item after this election is over,” Schara said. “We really wanted to give them something that actually made a difference to them instead of just giving a whole mass amount of buttons. … That doesn’t really help anyone.”

Haberberger explained the purpose of the donation.

“Giving gifts, the point is to give something that is bigger than yourself,” Haberberger said. “That’s what Mason and I attempted to do.”

Wettroth noted that there is nothing inherently wrong with utilizing Twitter to increase support for a given slate.

“They simply found a new way of utilizing social media,” Wettroth said.

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