College Council (CC) voted in favor of a bylaw, which will establish an elections supervisory committee to oversee all-campus elections.
The bylaw was proposed by Nishant Nayyar ’02 following problems in the last all-campus election, in which the former CC co-presidents put letters in student SU boxes, in an attempt to dispel what they considered to be false information provided by CC presidential candidate Reed Wiedower ’00, without first consulting with CC.
Wiedower explained the situation by saying ,“When I pointed out a violation of the campaign rules by my opponents, I was told that I was out of line and that if the rules were broken, perhaps CC could amend them so that the guilty parties would not be affected. As more and more violations occurred the co-presidents seemed to not care about the process they were in charge of overseeing.”
Nayyar described the root problem as “CC is pictured as protecting its own.”
The new bylaw will establish an election supervisory committee which will only supervise campus-wide elections. The members of the committee, who will be appointed by the elections committee, may not be running for any positions, although they may serve on student/faculty committees which are appointed.
During the course of debate on the issue Ryan Mayhew ’01 raised the issue of the house representatives in the discussion and whether or not they would also be excluded from serving on the committee. CC co-president Medha Kirtane ’00 asked that the words “campus-wide” be added to the bylaws, it had originally said “elections,” in order to allow house representatives to serve on the committee because she said she would be disappointed if a few dedicated people were not able to serve on both.
Prior to voting on the changes in the bylaws, CC debated whether or not to change the constitution. Nayyar presented three different constitutional amendments for consideration by CC.
The first amendment would change the powers of the elections committee, giving the committee jurisdiction solely over nominations for CC appointments and it would give the powers of “supervising elections, referenda and constitutional amendments” to the elections supervisory committee. Tim Karpoff ’01 supported this amendment because he saw it as the only one which would truly remove the conflict on interests that these changes were designed to prevent. He said that although no one knows exactly what conflicts of interest may arise, this amendment would be a “proactive measure.”
The second amendment would only give the power to supervise CC elections to the elections supervisory committee, leaving the elections committee with the power to “screen nominations for Council appointments, supervise referenda and constitutional amendments.” This amendment would prevent the election supervisory committee from being removed by a bylaw; it would have to be removed by another constitutional amendment.
The third amendment removed the word elections from the description of the powers of the elections committee, but did not add the elections supervisory committee to the constitution. Nayyar described this amendment as “the simplest and easiest” and put his personal support behind it. He also said that this amendment would allow CC to avoid the issue of having the entire committee graduate.
CC co-president Bert Leatherman ’00 pointed out that even with the constitutional amendment the composure of the committee could still be easily changed. “The amendment’s almost meaningless because the composure of the committee is what we’re trying to affect.”
Nayyar was not concerned with this and said that in terms of changing the composure of the committee, “I think we should leave that in the hands of the Council.”
Karpoff added to the debate by suggesting that the composition of the committee be what is added to the bylaws and the powers and duties in the constitution. CC secretary Ami Parekh ’01 pointed out to Karpoff that that is the way the system currently works.
For CC to make a constitutional amendment there needs to be a campus-wide vote. Half of the campus population must vote and two-thirds of the voting population must support the amendment. Matt Haldeman ’02 turned the debate to how CC could feasibly convince such a large portion of the campus population to go through the hassle of voting in order to change only one word, as would be the case if the third amendment was selected. Heather Matthews ’02 echoed his concern that this vote would not appear to be important or interesting to the general campus community.
Phil Fernbach ’01 suggested that CC send out an all-campus email which described what exactly was happening and why. Sean Glasheen ’01 stated his concern that in an attempt to sell the idea to the student body, CC would be making the changes for the wrong reason.
At the suggestion of Leatherman, the conversation shifted to the idea of only changing the bylaws and not the constitution, an idea which Hadleman supported, as it would eliminate the need for an all-campus election.
Nayyar suggested that CC could stretch the word “supervise” in the current bylaws in order to include the elections supervisory committee. Karpoff disagreed with this idea as he saw the stretch which Nayarr wanted to make as too large.
Todd Rogers ’01 suggested a compromise. He proposed that CC amend the bylaws immediately and then when another constitutional amendment is being voted on to “tack this one” on the end of it, as it is not a large enough change to warrant a campus-wide vote on its own.
Wiedower expressed reservations on the change though saying, “there were plenty of bylaws last year that were simply ignored or deliberately violated by the out-going presidents. New laws may not be the answer.