Student Assembly seeks to delay election

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March 16, 2010

4:50 AM

The College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly Senate is planning to postpone next week’s senate and presidential elections due to a lack of interested candidates.

The SA released the list of candidates after last week’s deadline to declare had passed. Many positions had one or no interested persons. Sixteen of 27 total positions on the ballot were uncontested.

“I think that the Elections Commission did another poor job of advertising the election, and as a result no one has run for some of the positions,” SA Sen. Erik Houser ’10 said. “This doesn’t reflect a change in opinion of the SA, just that no students knew an election was going on.”

Only three current SA members will seek re-election as senators. All incumbent senators from the Class of 2011 declined to seek re-election, and only two members of the Class of 2011 elected to run for the four open senator positions.

SA policy mandates that the date of the election cannot be changed after Thanksgiving of that academic year. Houser said he believes the law was put into place to ensure presidential candidates would not change the date for political gain.

Former SA Elections Commissioner Jazmine Piña ’11 resigned March 4 to seek election as Class of 2011 Treasurer. Andrew Gardner ’12 was appointed to fill the position and is currently in communication with potential candidates.

A constitutional amendment will be required to change the date of the election.

Houser said he would sponsor a bill at Tuesday’s SA meeting to move the election from its original March 24 date to March 31. He said co-sponsors of the bill would be drawn either from graduating seniors or SA members not seeking re-election.

The bill will call for additional information sessions to be held Wednesday and Thursday nights, as well as reopen positions for declarations of candidacy. Campaigning will then officially begin Thursday at midnight.

Since the bill calls for a constitutional amendment, it will require a three-fourths majority to pass in the senate. If this occurs, the bill would then be moved to the undergraduate and graduate councils for discussion and passage March 22, and upon passing those boards the bill would be signed into law by SA President Sarah Rojas ’10.

“Since the decisions [to declare candidacy] were due, several [SA] members have been contacted by people who hadn’t known about the election or were too late. This shows there are students who want to run and there was no reason not to let them to run,” Rojas said. “Everyone who wants to run and is eligible to run should be able to, and we want to make sure everyone can.”

All candidates for class president are currently running unopposed, although this is subject to change pending the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting.

David Alpert will run for the Class of 2013, Sen. Matt Schofield will run for the Class of 2012 and Mike Tsidulko will run for the Class of 2011.

Ben Brown ’11 and Chrissy Scott ’11 emerged as this year’s candidates for SA president.

Brown, who currently serves as the SA chairman, will run with Sen. Betty Jeanne Manning ’12 for vice president.

“I’ve been really impressed [by] the way she’s been willing to lead the Student Life Committee,” Brown said. “Anything she sets her mind to, she does.”

Scott serves as SA Deputy Chief of Staff and will run with Kaveh Sadeghian ’12 for vice president.

“Kaveh represents what I want to do — reach out to student groups,” Scott said. “I want more interaction between major student organizations and minor ones.”

Brown said he would focus on inefficiencies within the SA, and open the process of allocating money for student groups.

“When it comes to day-to-day student life the most important job the Student Assembly has is the allocation of [funds],” Brown said. “That process isn’t working as efficiently as possible.”

He said he would work to streamline the process.

“In interaction [with campus groups] there is too much red tape,” he said. “The system we have now for getting that money back is entirely too inefficient.”

Scott said that although she is happy with advances the SA has made on issues such as the four-person rule and campus housing, the work is far from over.

“Continuing to work on those issues [is important],” she said. “We’ve had great success in changing [the three-person rule] from three to four, but there are still lots of restrictions. We need to work to remove those.”

Scott also stressed the importance of increasing transparency in the SA.

“One of the big things to work on is the budget process,” she said. “A lot of organizations on campus don’t understand what goes on [behind the scenes.]”

Houser said the tentatively reopened positions will allow for a greater degree of change within the SA.

“I encourage anyone who has ever had even a passing interest in student government to run for a position this year,” he said. “This is a transformative time for the SA, and with fresh, new minds it can become a better overall organization.”

The senate will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Miller 1027.

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