Senate reconsiders election changes before terms end

Tyler McNeil
Managing Editor
The election committee tabled bylaw conflict for next year’s Student Senate to address.
“They would have all year to look it over and get through the process of getting it changed so the next election will be clean,” said Student Senate president Everett McNair.
During last Thursday’s committee meeting, members moved towards suggesting election rule changes for next year’s leadership instead of pushing to amend the bylaws.
They feared limited time would make it difficult for changes to pass through to the Faculty Student Association before future electees take office on June 1 and create discrepancies in the current election cycle.
Expecting to win the vice president position with the Surprise Party, freshman senator Stephen Pelletier anticipates working on changing the bylaws next semester.
“I think an update needs to be done, but I’m glad we’re taking a break and not jamming ourselves as the election comes together,” he said.
Suggestions for next year’s executive board will include decreasing power over settling conflicts in the election committee and redefining voting booths along with omitted other outdated language in the bylaws.
“I think we’re all in agreement that [the bylaws] are really terrible,” said election committee senior senator A’cynee Edmundson. “They just really need to be reconstructed.”
While the bylaws were tabled, the committee moved to enforce temporary regulations over the race, such as defining computers as functioning voting booths under Campaign Definition Rule No. 17. which prohibits campaigning within a 25 foot radius of voting booths. No explicit online voting rule is currently mentioned under the bylaws.
“There was a lot of confusion whether we should even consider it because a voting booth is a voting booth obviously, but I think it protects the students as well as the candidates,” said Edmundson.
Along with reinterpreting voting booth guidelines, members also pushed to temporarily settle campaign handout concerns which initially reignited the bylaw debate two weeks ago. According to election committee senior senator John Robert, Student Activities recommended the committee regulate refreshments under bake sale guidelines.
“Essentially [Student Activities] just doesn’t want free food in open air wandering around campus being a liability issues,” said Robert.
Under the guidelines, refreshment distribution will be contained within the Campus Center and candidates will be required to wear gloves and cover food.
Prior to last spring’s senior election, the LEAD Party gave out refreshments across campus without following bake sale guidelines. Student Activities asked the LEAD Party to stop handing out brownies in the Campus Center before the election committee intervened in an emergency call.
Student Activities continued discouraging refreshments into the current cycle, urging contenders in the current contest to avoid campaign handout distribution at an Apr. 1 meeting with the candidates. Advisors considered handouts for be unfair to contenders running with limited resources against larger parties for the second year in a row.
Student Senate treasurer Josiah Dillon believes limiting campaign handouts through bylaw restriction or precedents from Student Activities hurts the election process.
“My problem with stuff like that is … this college tries very, very hard to make things even for it being a competition to result in a winner and loser,” he said.
Dillon added that campaign materials should go through an approval process with the election committee in future bylaws, but otherwise, should not limit candidates from getting a competitive advantage over their opponents.
Aside from campaign materials, he believes that many of the election rules should be removed completely, mentioning his belief that some current regulations are legally questionable.
“They really just need to be almost gutted. They’re just garbage, really,” said Dillon.
The Student Senate has not made sweeping changes to its structure since a 2011 constitutional change. In the change, Student Activities received more authority with the backing of the college and previous Senate experience was removed from officer requirements.

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