Ferrera Should Be Penalized

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 3/31/95 5:00am

Student Assembly presidential candidate Phil Ferrera '96 has clearly violated election guidelines that prohibit cam-

paigning before April 4, and his campaign should be penalized.

Yesterday two students filed complaints with Director of Student Activities Tim Moore, who oversees the Election Advisory Committee. The complaints accuse Ferrera of seeking endorsements from two sorority presidents at the end of last term, a clear violation of election guidelines forbidding "seeking endorsement from a student or group of students" before the campaign begins.

Election guidelines prohibit candidates for the April 11 election from campaigning before April 4.

"I'm not going to get tripped up on diction," Ferrera told The Dartmouth Tuesday. "Was it illegal in terms of diction? Maybe."

But a violation is a violation; diction is not the issue. The election guidelines are clear and violators of them need to be punished.

The Election Advisory Committee should sanction Ferrera's campaign and delay its start by 36 hours. This punishment is appropriate to the severity of the violation. Similar penalties were imposed in 1993 against two candidates for similar violations.

These violations for early campaigning in the last few years highlight inadequate time allotted for campaigning.

One week is not enough time for candidates to explain their ideas to the students. Campaigns under current guidelines become a race to hang the most posters in the most places in the shortest amount of time, instead of an intelligent discussion of the candidates' views.

Moving the election from the third to the fourth week of Spring term and allowing two weeks for the campaign would give candidates a more acceptable amount of time to organize and carry out their campaigns, without unfairly penalizing candidates who are off Winter term.

But these are recommendations for the future and do not excuse the significance of Ferrera's campaign violations. Rules, even if they are not ideal, are still rules and need to be followed for a fair election to be held.