Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 at 1:08 p.m.
SA President Brandon Hill filed a complaint with the Student Court Tuesday, seeking to increase voting rights for some students in the upcoming SA elections.
Hill filed the complaint against an advisory opinion from the Joint Elections Commission – the body that oversees SA elections – stating all Columbian College of Arts and Sciences students will be allowed to vote for the CCAS senate race but cannot vote for the School of Media and Public Affairs or Corcoran School of the Arts and Design races if a voter is not a member of one of those schools. Hill said he wants to extend voting rights for all of those races to all CCAS students regardless of if they are in SMPA or Corcoran.
He said he served on the constitutional committee task force – a group charged with voting on changes to the SA’s constitution – and was a “strong advocate” for allocating seats to CCAS, SMPA, Corcoran and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. He said the senate seats aim to “elevate” the voices of students in schools who “often don’t get heard.”
The advisory opinion allows SMPA and Corcoran students to vote for a CCAS candidate and a candidate from their respective school.
Hill said the JEC opinion divides CCAS students instead of “empowering an underrepresented” population in SMPA and Corcoran.
“It is my hope that all students will be able to vote on all the seats allocated to them,” he said. “I hope the court swiftly overturns the advisory opinion and guarantees this right for all students.”
Chloe Wagner, the chairperson of the JEC, said the body made “careful” decisions when approving the advisory opinion to take into account the guidelines of the updated SA constitution, 2021 JEC bylaws and the “interests” of students. She said the updated constitution includes “limited” guidance about the allocation of CCAS undergraduate and graduate seats, so the opinion was necessary for the body to prepare the upcoming election.
“We believe this advisory opinion effectively balances the importance of student representation in the SA with the language in the new constitution as written by the SA Senate and approved by the student body last year,” Wagner said. “We look forward to hearing the Student Court’s decision in this matter and to a productive election season.”
Riham Yousif, the student court registrar, confirmed the court had received Hill’s complaint.
The court issued an order Thursday stating the judges will meet on Sunday to give “initial consideration” to the complaint. The order states the JEC is temporarily suspended from accepting registrations from candidates for senate seats for “any division” of CCAS until February 26, unless the court “extends, modifies or cancels” the decision.
The order states the two sides, Hill and the JEC, are required to submit their available hearing dates through March 6 by Sunday at 5 p.m.
Hill intends to have Jean Hyun, the SA vice president for judicial and legislative affairs, represent him, but he must submit a written statement to the court explaining why Hyun should represent because Hill is acting in his personal capacity as a CCAS student and not as SA president, the order states. Hyun must almost submit a written statement explaining why she should be able to represent Hill.
“Failure to respond to this order shall render the noncompliant person or party liable for sanctions and further discipline by the Court,” the order states.
The court had no comment in regard to the order, said Yousif, the court’s registrar.
This post has been updated to include information provided by the court.