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USAC adopts, amends Election Board proposal

About 17 students came to the undergraduate student government meeting Tuesday night, as the council discussed the two endorsement reform proposals

By Jillian Beck

Feb. 6, 2013 1:49 a.m.

The undergraduate student government voted Tuesday to amend its election code to limit the elections endorsement process to official group signatories, while rejecting a proposal that would have removed Election Board oversight from the process.

The push for election code reform came in response to loopholes that were abused in last year’s elections, leading to false student group endorsements.

Changes to the election code, proposed by the Election Board, were approved by a vote of 11-0-0 following an hourslong discussion at the council’s weekly meeting.

USAC President David Bocarsly’s proposal, which was rejected by an 0-10-2 vote, would have amended the election code to remove Election Board oversight from the endorsement process for the council’s elections in the spring.

Bocarsly proposed the change to address concerns about what he and several other student group leaders say is a “tedious and lengthy” process that creates a barrier for student groups to become involved in the endorsement process.

But many councilmembers said they did not support Bocarsly’s proposal because they think Election Board oversight is necessary during the endorsement process.

The Election Board’s proposal originally contained a provision that would have allowed official group signatories to authorize substitutes, instead of proxies, to participate in the endorsement process. The council, however, voted to modify the proposal and remove the proxy system that was the center of the endorsement misrepresentations last year.

The newly adopted election code change also stipulates that the Election Board has discretion over student group participation in the endorsement process. The lack of specificity in the revision was intended to leave room for the board to address concerns about the accessibility and length of the hearings, councilmembers said.

About 17 students sat through most of the meeting – which lasted for more than four hours – after nine of the students expressed support for the Election Board’s proposal during the public comment section.

Like many of students who spoke at the meeting, Eric Adams, a third-year Afro-American studies student and chair of the Queer Alliance, said he supported the Election Board’s proposal to reform the endorsement process and brought up concerns about the lack of oversight in Bocarsly’s.

“I think (Bocarsly’s) proposal creates more problems than it seeks to destroy,” he said.  “I think it’s extremely important for us to have a body like Election Board to regulate what we do (in endorsements).”

After Dana Pede, USAC Election Board chair, presented the pros and cons of each proposal and recommended the council adopt the board’s proposal, the discussion became heated.

Taylor Mason, USAC cultural affairs commissioner, was visibly upset as she expressed her support for the Election Board’s proposal. She said she thinks the elections process needs more regulation, not less.

“(USAC elections) is the one time in the school year when things get really nasty,” said Mason, bringing up personal experiences about campus climate issues. “Things need to be stricter.”

As the meeting progressed, the councilmembers eventually seemed to come to a compromise about the two proposals.

There also seemed to be a consensus among councilmembers and the Election Board that the endorsement process should be modified to be more accessible for student groups to take part in.

“I am by no means sold on (my proposal),” Bocarsly said. “However, I think there have been other great proposals thrown out during this discussion.”

Kim Davis, USAC academic affairs commissioner, suggested allowing group signatories to email in their endorsements to the Election Board.

“There is a lot of merit to opening the process, because it is very restricting to groups that aren’t able to attend the (endorsement hearing),” Davis said.

Pede said her board plans to regroup and decide how they will run this year’s endorsement process. Because of the flexibility in the wording of the adopted proposal, she said the board will not have to get anything further approved by USAC.

Still, the board intends to outline to council how it will run the endorsement process in the coming weeks, she added.

Email Beck at [email protected]

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