The Students’ Association Senate, in the face of recurring electoral difficulties, passed a motion on Oct. 23 to revamp its election procedures.

“The senate is reorganizing [elections] because we felt it necessary to more adequately reflect the representation of all four grades and the at-large senators within the senate and it also made voting and selecting the senate and process over the summer much simpler for the senate,” freshman senator Patrick Chase said.

The senate decided to reorganize elections so that they would be fairer to freshmen who wish to be elected in the fall, according to senator Harrell Kirstein.

“We consolidated the election periods so that instead of having semiannual elections, we’d have annual elections,” Kirstein said.

The impetus behind the motion came after this year’s fall elections, when a greater number of seats than usual were put up for vote after several senators either resigned or went abroad.

An original motion was passed to move fall at-large elections to the spring. A second motion made by freshman senator Lauren Sussman was made to have four seats from each class year created, but that motion did not pass. The third motion, an amendment proposed by Kirstein, allowed for four freshmen elections in the fall, three seats open for each other class in the spring and have at-large elections in the spring as well. This motion stood at a vote of eight to eight with one abstaining, before Speaker of the Senate and sophomore Hallie Cohn passed the tie-breaking vote in favor of the third motion.

“I believe freshmen need more than three senators on senate. If they’re only given the opportunity to run in the fall, they’d be at a strong disadvantage only having three freshmen and not being given the opportunity to have more,” Cohn said. “It makes for more contested elections in the spring, leaving everyone to be able to focus just on the freshmen in the fall and giving them the opportunity to have one more senator since they won’t be able to run for at-large, so it balances out.”

In the new system, freshmen will be simultaneously elected for hall council, class council and class senators. “There were six at-large seats this year, and it made it difficult to have such large elections in both the fall and the spring,” Chase said. “That’s why we came up with the current matrix.”

Chase also noted that this re-organization would not solve the inherent problems of students studying abroad, and that the study abroad option is still available to all senators.

The new make-up of the senatorial elections will have further benefits.

“The major benefit of this plan is most of the senate will be elected in the spring, allowing them to conduct business over the summer.” Chase said. “Having such a small senate starting in the spring as we currently have had limits the ability to do work.”

Such issues now able to be discussed over the summer include organization of the various senate committees as well as the powerful Students’ Association Appropriations Committee.

Under senate by-laws, the association is allowed to revise election laws without consulting the student body.

“The senate does have the prerogative to reorganize how it is structured. This was not taken lightly. All the proposals were discussed with a lot of insight and concern from various senators involved,” Chase said. “Everyone reached out to their constituents to make sure that other people knew of what was happening to make sure that as many as possible were involved, but ultimately the decision rests with the senate.”

The election procedures are the only changes currently occurring in the senate, and the revisions will not affect the running of the committees, including the Students’ Association Appropriations Committee, which was confirmed by Cohn, Kirstein, and Students’ Association President Alexander Pearlman.Brenneman is a member of the class of 2009.



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