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The Dartmouth
May 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Changing the rules; Group examines student election process

The Election Advisory Committee will scrutinize student election guidelines later this month

The internal review comes after a series of controversies in the first Student Assembly presidential election, which focused attention on the rules that govern student elections. The rules do not address campaign violations charges or the possibility that an elected leader could resign.

The EAC, composed of top student government leaders and the administrators charged with overseeing student elections, is scheduled to meet at the end of this month to consider revamping the rules, according to Director of Student Activities Tim Moore, who chairs the committee.

Student leaders on the committee criticized the rules, calling them ambiguous and unhelpful.

"The current guidelines are simply inadequate," Assembly President Andrew Beebe '93 said. "We need to have a much more structured election environment for the benefit of candidates and the voters."

"The guidelines should be more defined. They're too general," Senior Class President Doug Chia said. "In the past election, though, people felt free to take liberties. The EAC had to look into every little thing."

The advisory committee was forced to examine allegations of overspending and other forms of misconduct after the first Assembly presidential election. But no precedent existed for penalizing a candidate who overspent the $150 limit or violated other ethical rules.

Moore said the committee will work on clarifying the guidelines for campaign expenditures in light of the charges, which were filed against former Assembly President-elect Stewart Shirasu '94 by the current Assembly Treasurer Mike Corriere '94.

Shirasu ultimately chose to resign over the charges.

The Election Advisory Committee will also examine debates, Moore said. "There were seven or eight in the first elections. We'll try to see how to coordinate them better," such as spreading them out so two do not occur on the same night.

The committee may also examine the possibility of funding Assembly elections.

In the second election for Assembly president, the Student Assembly paid for certain campaign expenses of candidates who ran in the first race. Currently candidates must pay for their own campaigns.

Beebe said candidates could also get a $150 account at the College's copy center so "people play with the same rules and don't get an advantage if, say, your parents owned a copy store," Beebe said.

"In the 1970s, the Student Assembly was disbanded because it became too political," Chia said. "Over the last four years things have escalated tremendously. There's been back-stabbing, cheating, politicization, and an exponential increase in the volume of propaganda. It's something we have to be aware of and ... regulate."

"Our responsibility is to sit down and evaluate the guideline and what is stated here," Moore said. "We will build upon what we've learned."