The Student Association approved a new Joint Elections Committee charter this week that calls for campus elections before undergraduate students’ spring break, making it the first organization to approve the new charter.
The Program Board and the Marvin Center Governing Board must approve the charter in the same format before the rules become final.
Approved at an emergency meeting of the SA Senate Tuesday, the charter calls for SA, PB and MCGB elections to begin the Tuesday two weeks before the University’s earliest scheduled spring recess – March 3 and 4 this year.
The JEC charter regulates campus-wide student elections, setting rules for campaigning and supervising the actual voting process.
The time frame laid out in the new version of the charter differs from the language in the last draft, which circulated during the fall semester. The draft called for elections after spring break and stirred conflict among members of the participating organizations.
The charter used during the 1997 elections was approved on a one-year trial basis with the understanding that it would be redrafted this year. It stipulated that elections should be held no later than 21 days before the start of undergraduate spring break. That trial charter was a break from the original JEC charter, which was in place from 1978 to 1996.
The JEC charter was approved during a specially-scheduled Senate meeting because debate over it was detracting from other SA business, said Tony Sayegh, the SA’s executive vice president.
Leaders from the SA, PB and MCGB met prior to Tuesday’s meeting to work through sticking points in the document.
The date of elections stood as the main point of contention among the student leaders. Some representatives said they wanted to hold elections after spring break to allow for a shorter transition period for newly-elected leaders and to give the JEC more time to organize. Others said they feared a later election would damage the momentum of the campaign season and decrease voter turnout.
The new election dates – two weeks later than last year’s elections – were a compromise among the student leaders.
“(The new dates) will stay. I don’t see why it would every become an issue again,” Sayegh said.
“I am very happy with the change. Elections are still later than they have been in the past,” SA President Kuyomars “Q” Golparvar said.
The MCGB will vote on the charter Jan. 23, according to executive chair Jonathan Pompan, who said he anticipates it will pass.
Soraya Tabibi, executive chair of PB, said she also expects the PB to pass the charter at its retreat this weekend.
“I am ecstatic that it’s over,” Tabibi said.
Once the charter is passed by all three organizations, each group will appoint three members to the JEC, said Brian Schoeneman, the SA’s vice president for judicial and legislative affairs.
This article appeared in the January 15, 1998 issue of the Hatchet.