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Representatives discuss postponing transition date

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, February 24, 2005

Senators discussed student government election and transition issues at their meeting Wednesday night, focusing for the majority of the time on the prospect of pushing the transition day to a later date.

James Leito, Siegfried senator and member of the Committee on Oversight, asked for the senators’ opinions on a calendar that featured a May 1 transition date – as opposed to the constitutionally-mandated April 1 date – for all student government bodies besides the Financial Management Board and the Club Coordination Council. He said he wanted to assess the level of support for the measure before beginning the tedious process of changing all the dates in the constitution for presentation in resolution form.

Leito argued that adding an extra month to current leaders’ terms and giving newly-elected officials an extra month to observe would make the transition process easier and more productive. He also reasoned that new representatives would have more opportunities to attend meetings before they themselves have to run them, and experienced representatives would be given more time in which to wrap up their end-of-the-year projects.

Fisher senator Sujal Pandya opposed the change, arguing that the new leaders need the month at the end of the year to “get their feet wet,” and that simply observing meetings for a month does not provide them an opportunity to do so.

“Being in a meeting in April entails that you’re actually in the job, working,” Pandya said. “It is important that you come to own the role before summer, or you will lose momentum coming into the new school year.”

Pandya also asked that the senators take into consideration the opinion of the Hall President’s Council, which has voiced its opposition to the date change.

Fisher Hall president Jacob Benedict was given the floor to offer his assent to Pandya’s statement.

“In Senate, a lot of your work is done in meetings, but HPC isn’t like that,” Benedict said. “The majority of the work is done within the dorms, when the president is planning. You don’t get your feet wet at meetings, so an extra month wouldn’t prepare new presidents at all.”

Proponents of the change said starting a new term on April 1 makes continuity of projects during the summer break difficult, and it would be more beneficial for the student body to have experienced leaders in office for an extra month at the end of their term, when productivity tends to be higher.

Its detractors, however, said an extra month of preparation for incoming representatives was not necessarily beneficial, and cautioned that not everyone would take advantage of the time anyways.

“Frankly, I came to three Senate meetings before I became senator, but I still didn’t know what I was doing until a few meetings after I took office,” Josh Pasquesi, Morrissey senator, said. “At least I had the benefit of being able to go to the old senator for advice.”

Debate on the subject lasted for almost an hour, during which no consensus on the best plan of action was reached.

“If our success is hinged on setting a calendar right, we have bigger problems to deal with,” Vijay Ramanan, chair of the Committee on Academic Affairs, said in closing.

The Committee on Oversight also presented three ideas regarding election campaigning to solicit the senators’ input.

The first idea proposed a reimbursement for funds spent by student body president, vice president and class council candidates during the campaign. Currently, candidates are permitted to spend up to $200 on their campaigns, all of which they must procure on their own.

“There are kids on this campus that want to make a change, and it’s unfortunate that they have to spend their own money to get the chance to do it,” Leito said.

Vice president-elect and Badin senator Lizzi Shappell supported the idea, saying that she knew many interested students who declined to run after discovering the costs involved.

President-elect and chief executive assistant Dave Baron, however, said reimbursement was unnecessary.

“If you’re going to run for office, you have to be willing to sacrifice your time, your effort and even your money,” Baron said. “There are means and places out there already to provide for candidates who may not have the finances to pull the money from their own pockets.”

The second idea was to take away the ban on campaigning on election day. Most senators stood in support of repealing the ban after Brian Coughlin, director of Student Activities, explained that the restriction’s original purpose was to prevent voter intimidation when students voted on paper ballots at locations in their individual dorms.

The final idea, to which no one voiced objections, proposed that voting begin at midnight on election day rather than 8 a.m., to accommodate for abroad students in different time zones.

In other Senate news:

u Senators Julie Pearce and Agus Galmarini told the Senate that during their discussion about football ticket distribution with the athletic department’s director of ticketing Josh Berlo, they learned that included in a new campus system upgrade will be software that will allow students to purchase tickets online. Though this technology would not be in place until the 2006-2007, Pearce and Galmarini asked senators to see how their constituents felt about possibly purchasing football tickets over the summer instead of in the fall.

u Student body vice president Karla Bell said that U2’s managers, Principle Management, had informed them that Bono and the band would not be able to fit a stop in South Bend into their spring tour schedule. However, a campaign to get U2 to come in the fall will continue, Bell said.