Student charged with elections violation makes case

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February 27, 2009

12:51 AM

Tuesday night’s Student Assembly meeting began with a prepared speech by Horacio Carreño-García ’10, who was charged by the Elections Commission with a violation of the SA Elections Code two weeks ago. In addition, SA members introduced eight new bills and passed one.

Carreño-García, who was charged with soliciting votes for the upcoming SA presidential election, said that the charge against him had been “based upon a rumor instead of clear fact.” He also argued that the elections code is in urgent need of reform.

“As the election code stands, it is an amalgamation of vague rules favoring those already in office,” he said. The senate responded to Carreño-García’s comments with half-hearted applause.

After committee and executive updates, the senate heard the Changes Necessary to Enforce the Finance Code Act, sponsored by Sens. Caroline Mullis ’09 and Ryan Ruzic J.D. ’11. The legislation updates the obscure language of the current finance code, which does not specify what repercussions — if any — would result from a misuse of funds.

According to the reworked finance code, elected officials will face impeachment for misappropriation of funds or for withholding information about the use of funds. Non-elected officials will receive letters of concern from the senate Committee on Finance and Budget. If the behavior of a non-elected official is not promptly remedied, the president will then face impeachment.

The updates to the finance code are especially relevant after the controversy involving former Vice President Zach Pilchen ’09, and his misuse of SA funds earlier this academic year. The bill passed unanimously after minimal debate.

As a matter of special business, Sen. Matt Pinsker ’09 reported on his personal investigation into the recent prosecution of the students residing at 711 Richmond Rd. for violating the three-person rule.
A series of new bills were introduced for future consideration.

The Welcoming Incoming Freshmen Act, sponsored by Sens. Brittany Fallon ’11 and Ben Brown ’11, would fund several efforts by the Senate Outreach Committee to greet newly admitted students, including potentially distributing of a CD containing original music from the College of William and Mary Pep Band and Choir. The CD’s produced by the SA would be given to freshmen during orientation.

The Dormitory History Act, also sponsored by Fallon, would allocate money for distributing packets to inhabitants of residence halls that detail the dorm’s history. Fallon noted that the idea is partly based on a practice at Harvard University, where students are given information about illustrious former residents of their dorm rooms.

The Stop the Abuse of Recycling Bins Act, sponsored by Fallon, would designate funds for the purchase of trash bins in undergraduate and graduate residence halls to discourage students from misusing the provided recycling bins.

The Prevent Wet Tours Act, also sponsored by Fallon, would allocate funds for the purchase of umbrellas to be distributed to prospective students touring campus. This gesture, Fallon hopes, would improve the perception that touring students have of both the College and the SA.

The Student Assembly Contact Sheet Act, sponsored by Sens. Michael Tsidulko ’11, Fallon, Michael Douglass ’11 and Brown, would charge the sponsors with the creation of a contact sheet that would charge the sponsors with the creation of a contact sheet that would be hosted on the SA website. The bill is intended to improve communication between the student body and the SA.

The Actually Having Good Elections Act, sponsored by Sens. Matt Beato ’09 and Walter McClean ’09, would attempt to increase student participation in elections by earmarking $375 for the use of the SA Elections Commission. These funds would be used primarily to publicize SA elections.

Finally, the Hold Accountable a Dysfunctional Honor Council Act, sponsored by Sen. Steven Nelson ’10, was considered. The bill would declare “No Confidence” in the Honor Council and demand the resignation of the council of chairs and the undergraduate elections chairman in response to several perceived failures.

Nelson cites two particular issues, a lack of publicity for the spring 2008 Honor Council election and a lack of school-wide education regarding the changes proposed in the 2008 Honor Council Referendum.
“There’s no confidence in the Honor Council, and I think we have to reflect that,” Nelson said.

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