The Students’ Association All Campus Judicial Council ruled unanimously on Monday in favor of junior Joe Cala’s appeal against the Students’ Elections Committee to claim the Class of 2006 senate seat.Princy Thottahil won the 2006 senate seat in the election two weeks ago – however, Cala proved that SA bylaws entitled him to the seat after last spring’s winner, Nat Powell, recently vacated the seat in order to study abroad.”Article I, Section 1.G.3 of the SA bylaws [states] … Vacant seats shall be filled by the person who received the next highest number of votes in the Senator’s election,” ACJC said in a written decision. “The petitioner [Cala] should have been offered the Class of 2006 senate seat before it was made available as part of a new election.”Thottahil chose to run for the 2006 seat because it was an uncontested race, as opposed to the competitive Susan B. Anthony Residence Hall’s seats. ACJC mandated that the Elections Committee must hold a runoff election for Sue B.’s two seats between freshman Hannah Geswein, junior Matt Goldblatt and Thottahil. Until then, Geswein and Goldblatt, this fall’s winners, will continue to represent Sue B. Conducting a runoff election between the three ensures that everyone has a right to a senate seat. “I am relieved that ACJC upheld the SA bylaws, and that the bylaws have prevailed,” Cala said. “On behalf of the students of the class of 2006, I look forward to being a part of an improving, active and respectable legislative body, which is not only emblematic, but also a catalyst of the Meliora spirit of the university – always better.””I completely agree with ACJC’s ruling – the constitution should have been followed,” Geswein said. “Since it was not, having a new election is the only way to resolve this unfortunate mistake. I respect Princy’s right to run for office again. She should have a fair chance to run in the Sue B. election just as I did. While I would be very disappointed if I lose my senate seat after less than a month, I know a new election is the appropriate action to take.”However, Thottahil disagreed. “I feel that ACJC’s decision creates further problems and complicates the senate elections more than they need to be,” Thottahil said. “I felt ACJC had their decision made before the hearing even began, and looked solely at the bylaws without considering the consequences.”Their ruling involves two other people who have nothing to do with the Class of 2006 elections and now I’m in a situation where the only option I have is to potentially take away a seat from a Sue B. senator,” Thottahil continued. “I really looked forward to being a senator and I’m very disappointed that this ruling penalizes me and sets up a potential for conflict in the Sue B. elections.””This is a very unfortunate situation,” Goldblatt said. “I respect ACJC’s decision as Joe should have been offered the seat in the first place according to the bylaws. However, at the same time, I feel terribly for Princy, as the ordeal she went through was completely unnecessary and very tiring for someone who just would like to get involved in the SA, working to improve the UR community. It is frustrating and sad to think that the whole situation could have been avoided if there was better communication and more diligence on the part of Speaker of the Senate and Elections Committee Chair.”During Friday’s hearing, the Elections Committee defended its decision to keep Thottahil in the Senate seat based on the fact that they did not have clear evidence that Cala was the third highest vote getter.”The student government is a work in progress,” Elections Committee Chair and sophomore Alex Pearlman said. “We were unaware that Joe was eligible because there was no paper trail from last year’s election. Things get lost when people graduate and it’s hard to figure out what happened.”In their decision, the ACJC criticized this defense. “We agree with the Election Committee Chair that the deterioration of communication within senate from year to year is a serious obstacle to the smooth administration of the senate’s duties,” ACJC wrote. “However, we do not accept this as an excuse for the haphazard adherence to election bylaws demonstrated here.””We are going to learn from this. There is a flaw in the system,” Speaker of the Senate and senior Tom Hayes said at the hearing.”The senate is hereby strongly advised to improve its election records – namely, to have some,” ACJC ruled. “Subsequent to all future elections, a historical record of the certified results should be made, minimally in paper form … Copies of this document should be forwarded to the new Elections Committee Chair and Speaker of the Senate when a transition occurs.”Chief Justice Dave Iseminger and Justice Arnab Datta reprimanded the senate for a lack of continuity in their concurrent opinion. Both rulings are available on ACJC’s Web site or by e-mail request. “I respect ACJC’s decision,” Pearlman said. “It is disappointing that we have to hurt someone by shutting them out of senate. I will continue to work with the government to make sure that no one gets hurt this way in the future.”Keesing can be reached atjkeesing@campustimes.org.Paret can be reached ateparet@campustimes.org.



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