Project Red disputes contest policy

Project Red was given $1,000 for encouraging Campus Perks to change their terms and conditions

The winning group and runners up of Campus Perks contest.
The winning group and runners up of Campus Perks contest.

Student sponsorship program Campus Perks has changed their policy after a Queen’s student claimed they permitted cheating in a recent contest they hosted.

Campus Perks (CP) awarded Sabrina Parker, ArtSci ’14, $1,000 for encouraging the organization to better specify their contest terms and conditions, following her claims. The proceeds will go toward the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Parker, an executive director of Queen’s Project Red, entered the group into Campus Perks’ Campus Choice contest this past summer in order to win funding for their upcoming charity fashion show. A winner would be granted $1,000 if they received the most online votes for their campus-based project.

Project Red aims to promote health and wellness among students as well as raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Parker, along with other Project Red members, harbored suspicions that other university groups had cheated when voting suddenly spiked in the final hours of the contest. Campus Perks told Parker that two other universities had an increase upwards of 600 votes.

Although Campus Perks couldn’t confirm that the groups cheated, and didn’t disqualify any candidates, they gave the $1,000 to Parker for making them aware of their unclear policy, and for contributing to the community through Project Red.

Parker said that the two other groups, who she claimed violated CP’s original terms and conditions for the contest, weren’t removed after CP acknowledged they were aware of illegitimate voting.

Rather, Parker said that CP told her they wouldn’t actively disqualify the winners, who she claims used computer-generated voting.

The Schulich School of Business’s Apex Conference, as well as Wilfrid Laurier University’s Rainbow Run, both saw spikes in votes toward the end of the competition. The Apex Conference won the contest.

Neither organization replied to requests for an interview.

“It was Homecoming weekend [at Laurier] so I found it strange that you would have 700 people at home on a Friday night, just waiting to vote,” Parker said.

“To me when I read ‘grounds for disqualification’ I assumed that if you were to [use computer-generated voting] then you would be disqualified from the competition,” she said.

Parker said that CP told her they wouldn’t remove the groups in question because although there was evidence of tampering, it could have been a third party.

“I’m disappointed, especially because a lot of the other groups who had joined the competition, they were more charity-based, and a group that won .... they were not charity- based,” she said.

CP spoke with Parker on Monday again and decided to modify their terms and conditions to clarify why the groups weren’t disqualified.

“Currently our terms and conditions state that if there’s any issue with voting, it’s up to our discretion whether or not we disqualify the applicant,” said David Wilkin, founder of Campus Perks.

“What we’re going to add into that is specifically that not only is it at our discretion, but only if there’s evidence to suggest that it was a participant that hacked this site are they disqualified,” he said.

Wilkin said that Campus Perks has a state-of-the-art computer platform that ensures false votes don’t leak through.

Wilkin said it’s important to CP that they don’t unintentionally disqualify contestants who may have not been involved in the voting hack. “If it’s a third party hacking the site, we don’t want to penalize someone innocent that got hacked,” he said.

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