Staff Editorial: System overhaul

The Student Association election process is fundamentally flawed and should be repaired as soon as the current crisis ends. Basic governing documents contain loopholes allowing for egregious misbehavior, omit regulations covering important aspects of the elections and do not deal effectively with rules violations.

The JEC charter must be made more clear, concise and comprehensive. A total of 101 separate articles deal with very specific conduct, but none covers alcohol. This omission has become painfully obvious in the wake of the Feb. 23 Delta Tau Delta campaign party that led to 10 student arrests for under-aged drinking. Clearly such a party runs counter to ideals governing a student election, and provisions in the election rules should prohibit them.

Important provisions governing the rules for referenda are also omitted. The confusion has led to numerous complaints filed by opponents of the new SA constitution who are seeking to have the question disqualified. In addition, the complaints are lodged against the quasi-political party Change for Students. Not surprisingly, the JEC charter does not cover such groups. Without clear guidelines governing how to handle these unusual cases, the JEC cannot justly sustain any of these complaints. The JEC must create new rules to prevent similar confusion in future elections.

The process by which violations are discovered is also flawed and leads to the pettiness and infighting that characterizes SA elections. By only relying on complaints by other candidates and their supporters, the JEC creates a system that encourages candidates to seek out violations as a political tactic as they seek to have their opponents disqualified. Perhaps a larger JEC should police the election itself and not rely solely on complaints. Paying members using SA funds could also motivate members to stay through the difficult election process.

Furthermore, the current system of assigning penalties does not adequately consider the severity of violations. A candidate who posts an unauthorized poster could be penalized in the same manner as another candidate engaging in outright bribery. The JEC charter should better weight violations so that minor violations cannot disqualify a candidate unless they are especially egregious or overwhelming in number.

Reform of the election process must be the starting point for an improved SA, and that reform must begin immediately after the current debacle is resolved.

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