Student trustee candidate resigns USG amid plagiarism allegations

Christine Savino poses for a headshot ahead of her run for a Board of Trustee position in the spring of 2016. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Christine Savino poses for a headshot ahead of her run for a Board of Trustee position in the spring of 2016. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

A candidate for student representative on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees resigned from her position in Undergraduate Student Government Thursday night, after the USG judiciary voted earlier that day to hear a case accusing her of plagiarism.

Christine Savino, the trustee candidate and now former USG senator for McMahon Hall, said the case was baseless. Savino said “false news” and rumors were being spread by her opponent for the trustee position, USG Speaker George P. Wang. Wang said he was gathering information but denies spreading rumors.

“I’ll be completely honest, she’s said [these accusations] many instances to a bunch of different people,” Wang said. “To be frank, there’s a reason I haven’t said this to The Daily Campus (earlier) or the other trustee candidates. I was not sure what was going on. I just wanted to gather all the information and just send it to the STEC (Student Trustee Election Committee).”

Adomous Wright, a former candidate for trustee who dropped out of the race on Jan. 30, filed a case with USG’s judiciary accusing Savino of copying and pasting his platform and then presenting it as part of her own. Wright is now running to represent the School of Engineering in USG as a senator.

Wright’s suit included copies of both his platform and Savino’s. Both included references to rising tuition, the distribution of financial aid, upgrading network infrastructure and the preface quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”

Savino’s document was significantly longer, about four pages of text to Wright’s two.

Savino said Wright had volunteered to help her campaign. The document in its current state co-credits Wright and Savino as authors.

“Adomous [Wright] and I had been working on my platform and ideas together after he decided not to run,” Savino said Sunday night to Daily Campus staff via Facebook Messenger. “He gave me his materials and groups that he was going to collaborate with. He helped connect me with people and was a big help to my campaign. We worked on that for awhile and then I brought in other people to help edit and contribute.”

Wright said he did share the document with Savino but never expressed willingness to be part of her campaign or gave her permission for her to “copy and paste” his ideas.

“I expected her to make things more comprehensive,” Wright said. “I expected her to take maybe one idea and paraphrase it and bring in her experience with USG. None of that was ever done.”

Savino also said the document was only shared among her supporters.

“If I thought (Wright) would be upset or we weren’t on the same side, I wouldn’t have shared it with (him),” Savino said in a phone interview on Feb. 12.

The case did not advance to its hearing, USG Chief Justice Andrew Stern said. Savino resigned after she was told that the judiciary had voted to bring it to hearing.

“The only action taken on the case was voting whether or not to hear it,” Stern said. “Once she resigned the case was dropped.”

Savino resigned on Feb. 16 in a letter addressed to USG leadership (which included Wang).

“I will unfortunately be resignating [sic] from my Senate duties for the semester,” Savino wrote in a Feb. 16 email. “This hurts me, although doing so will unfortunately keep me from being targeted during this election cycle.”

Wang, in his capacity as USG Speaker, announced Savino’s resignation in a single sentence at the end of the preliminary email announcements for USG’s Feb. 22 Senate meeting.

“I decided to distance myself from USG as I felt very awkward even being in the office or being around other members,” Savino said. “USG is a passion of mine and has become a core part of my life but I really had to because of these rumors.”

Elections for all student leadership positions at UConn, including USG executives, USG senators and student representatives on the Board of Trustees, will be held on March 1 and 2.


Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.

Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at schae.beaudoin@uconn.edu.

Christopher McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.