SA passes election rules bill, fills nine positions

The SA voted to amend joint election committee regulations, back any future fall breaks, and limit public comment times. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor
The SA voted to amend the Joint Election Committee charter, back any future fall breaks, and limit public comment times. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

The Student Association Senate passed three new bills Monday night, including a bill clarifying rules for the Joint Election Committee that earned unanimous support.

The bill called for several changes to be made to the JEC charter, like mandating that committee financial expenditure reports be made public in all races, including those for Class Council and Program Board, and that students who withdraw their candidacy prior to the voting period must submit a notice to the committee. This allows the committee time to notify the senate and remove names from the ballot.

During the last SA elections, presidential candidate Tony Hart dropped out from the race two days before voting began, but his name still appeared on the ballot.

The bill also clarified the posters each candidate is permitted, which were first redefined in another bill passed by the senate last academic year. Students running in the spring for the highest positions of SA president, SA executive vice president, program board chair and vice-chair may hang 10 posters in each of the four locations. Candidates for at-large seats may hang seven posters in each location and all other offices are limited to five posters maximum per location.

Sen. Sydney Nelson, ESIA-U, said she sponsored the bill because the clarifications ensure clarity and financial transparency.

“The bill allows the integrity of the election to be maintained,” Nelson said.

Nelson added that altering the notice time for a candidate to withdraw from the ballot from three days to 24 hours provides more flexibility.

The Senate also passed a bill 18 to three in favor of limiting the public comment time to five minutes per speaker.

Sen. Michael Overton, ESIA-G, said he sponsored the bill because it still encourages public involvement but also enables the Senate to conduct its business in a more timely way. Senators have the choice to overrule the chair and give students more time if needed.

Sen. Michael Overton, ESIA-G, sponsored a bill to improve timeliness at Senate meetings. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor
Sen. Michael Overton, ESIA-G, sponsored a bill to improve timeliness at Senate meetings. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

“I have noticed a trend since the beginning of the year that meetings tend to run long and other senators tend to leave because of other commitments,” Overton said. “This allows for the most democratic process possible.”

The Senate also unanimously passed a resolution declaring their intent to encourage the University to add fall break to future academic calendars.

Between 30 and 50 percent of students living in Amsterdam Hall, Shenkman Hall, West Hall and Thurston hall left campus during the break while South Hall had no noticeable decreases, according to data provided by GWorld card tap-in analysis included in the bill.

SA Executive Vice President Thomas Falcigno, who first began the process for creating a fall break two years ago, said that he was approached by multiple students who said the break was a necessary and important break for their mental health.

“I would like to see it through future years at GW so we can make the lives of students better,” Falcigno said. “If it can be done it should be done.”

Owen Evans was elected unanimously to move from the role of assistant to vice president of academic affairs following the resignation of Vaishali Ashtakala for personal reasons earlier this semester.

Evans said he would focus specifically on lowering or removing the fine for students who are in their 18th credit class. This issue especially affects students looking to graduate early, he said.

“We have to give people control of their schedules,” Evans said. “That is my main goal for the rest of the semester if I am confirmed, to work on and improve the policies we already have.”

The Senate also added nine new members, four by secret ballot and five approved in uncontested elections.

These elections come after a heated debate during the last SA meeting in which senators failed to pass a resolution to rework the selection process. The proposed bill would have ensured that senators could write in name of an applicant or indicate the seat should remain unfilled to avoid the current process in which a seat is filled automatically if one person applies for it.

Jack Jomarron ran on diversifying the dining options and expanding sexual assault reports and was chosen to fill the vacant U-at-Large seat, while Arian Rubio, who will take on the CCAS-U seat, said he would increase access to academic resources and focus on affordability on campus.

Alysha Cieniewicz successfully ran for the GSEHD-G seat on improving the graduate community by hosting events like game nights and happy hours for constituents. And new SOB-G senator Elana Kuo Leblanc said she would work to increase communication among departments in the business school.

Five uncontested seats were also filled by Scott Barber for the Graduate School of Medical and Health Sciences, Shuyi Zhang for the Graduate School of Professional Studies, Julie Duffy for the first-year non-voting graduate seat and both Luz Maria Jasso Gascon and Ashley Raye Smith for the two open Columbian College of Arts and Sciences graduate seats.

The senate also voted to turn the Duffy’s first-year non-voting graduate seat and the School of Nursing graduate seats into two U-at-Large seats.

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