SGA senate passes election by-laws amendment

By Cassy Sottile and Erica Quinones

News Editors

The Student Government Association Senate amended sections J and K and their campaigning by-laws to create a clearer election process.

The new by-law changes deal with inconsistencies in past SGA elections, according to SGA President and senior Nicholas Gottemoller. They clarify vague language in the original legislation and define what the SGA can or cannot do.

Questions surrounding appropriate solicitation arose during the 2019 elections due to the number of candidates. According to Gottemoller and SGA Parliamentarian sophomore Kat DeSantis, there were 18 freshmen candidates running for four positions. This is more than quadruple the Class of 2022’s election, where eight candidates ran.

Because the 2019 election was heavily contested, the prevalence of invasive campaigning was more visible. There were issues with student privacy as some candidates knocked on residential dorms, slid fliers under doors, and posted them in bathrooms.

SGA has since amended the by-laws to prohibit placing paraphernalia in private places like bathrooms and residential dorms. Campaign materials must be limited in public spots like Hodson Hall Commons, academic buildings, and dormitory common areas and hallways.

There were also concerns about campaign fairness. SGA passed an amendment explicitly banning “quid pro quo,” or granting a favor in exchange for something, agreements in elections. This does not ban candidates from handing food directly to students in public spaces, as long as there is no exchange or incentive involved.

SGA also wants to address fairness by supporting candidates without endorsing them. They hope to accomplish this partially by providing students with 15 fliers if they desire them. 

Another step goes towards where students can hang those fliers. While they are permissible in any public space, the SGA Office is prohibited. They do not want candidates hanging fliers in or outside the office to prevent apparent endorsement, according to DeSantis.

The by-laws were approved with little conversation, except over one section which was not passed. It originally prohibited candidates from reserving a table in Hodson Hall Commons because they are typically saved for club events.

Changes continued updating old by-laws like those regarding ballot counting. Before, the counting process dictated that Public Safety be involved, according to Gottemoler.

The new by-laws state that the Parliamentarian will count votes with the Honor Board Chair and at least one advisor present to ensure confidentiality.

These are not the only amendments Senate has adjusted this semester. Because by-law amendments must be passed by the Senate twice, they take at least a month to be written and passed. This leaves many planned or nearly finished amendments on the table.

DeSantis said that the first thing on the agenda for next semester is club reactivation legislation. They hope to decide whether deactivated clubs must restart as Student Interest Groups or if they can immediately reclaim club status.

Other legislation concerns the roles of class officers. DeSantis said that they hope to give them more responsibility through a budget, revamped social media pages, and mandatory events. She said the added responsibility will make the job more meaningful and help the officers be advocates for students.

They will also address the executive board’s responsibilities, clarifying what they are required to do. DeSantis said that if students have issues or ideas, wanting to write legislation or resolutions, they should contact her or join the SGA Senate, which meets every other Tuesday in Norman James Theatre.

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