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May 24, 2013

SG to update E&R rules

After a contentious election cycle, Student Government (SG) is strongly considering amending its constitution and by-laws to give the Elections & Rules (E&R) Committee clearer directives on election procedures and dealing with potential complications.

Amendments to the constitution and by-laws will be proposed by an ad hoc committee convened by the current SG executive slate. The seven-member committee—which includes fourth-year Lester Ang, current E&R chair, and third-year Michael McCown,  incoming SG president—met yesterday and will present its recommendations to the SG assembly next Thursday.

The committee was formed with a broad mandate: “thinking critically about any areas for improvement within SG’s governing documents,” SG president and third-year law student Renard Miller said. But McCown said the committee would mostly be focused on changes to E&R, which is tasked with supervising SG elections. He hopes the committee will “provide more guidance for E&R so that it’s not left...essentially on a year by year, case by case basis, re-evaluating situations.”

McCown said he believes E&R should have more of a structure to facilitate a delineated and consistent approach to problems that might arise in future elections.

“There were always rules that were broken during the election, or alleged rule-breaking, but part of the issue is that there was not sufficient guidance within the current by-laws to deal with the kinds of things that were happening,” he said. “My understanding was that [E&R] sort of needed to make up rules or responses on the fly about how they would deal with different perceived infractions. So essentially, the point of this committee is to potentially dramatically revamp that section of the SG constitution, and make it clearer and more agile, more prepared for an election like this in the future.”

Ang agreed that E&R needs more clarity and said he would propose amendments that would help candidates to be informed of campaign rules earlier and clarify rules on confidentiality.

“I think it would be better if candidates are informed earlier so they can better plan campaign strategies and be more thorough in ensuring that they’re running a clean campaign,” he said.

SG felt it necessary to make changes now because they wanted the amendments to be in place for first-year College Council elections in the fall, according to McCown.

Amendments to the constitution require passage by a two-thirds vote in the SG Assembly and a three-fifths vote by members of the student body to be ratified. Amendments to the by-laws only require a three-fifths vote of Assembly to be implemented. The constitution lays out the basic governing principles of Student Government, while the by-laws lay out specific rules for the different committees that make up SG.

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