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Members make decisions as semester ends

Amanda Michaels | Thursday, December 2, 2004

The Student Senate passed a flurry of resolutions at Wednesday night’s meeting, quickening the pace as the semester draws to a close, and finally approved a constitutional amendment regarding elections after three weeks of extended debate.

Discussion of the amendment, first introduced at the group’s Nov. 10 meeting, took almost an hour as senators worked against a deadline. Because the electoral process had to be solidified before the introductory candidates meeting held later Wednesday night, the amendment had to pass if there was to be any kind of reform for this year’s election.

The three main points of change are an increased petition signature requirement for write-in candidate approval, the removal of the abstention option from the run-off election ballot and the inclusion of a free-choice vote for senators in the case of an exact vote tie in the run-off.

On the first point there was no contention, but the other two sparked a debate.

Student body president Adam Istvan supported the removal of the abstention option, citing research of election policies at seven of Notre Dame’s peer institutions that showed the majority of schools fail to provide the option to abstain even in the primary.

Those senators opposed to the change cited the principle behind abstaining, saying that students lose the chance to make their opinion known if it is removed from the run-off ballot.

Zahm senator Mike McGinley – a leading voice in the opposition camp – proposed a change to the amendment wording that satisfied both sides. The run-off ballot will retain the abstention choice, but to ensure that one of the two candidates gains the mandate of a majority, the abstentions will not be factoring into total vote percentage calculations.

The decision to give the senators the power to vote as they please and not by how the majority of the dorm voted in the case of a perfect run-off tie was reversed, returning the original constitutional language.

“If the ideal situation is that everyone will follow the vote of their dorm if given the choice, let’s cut out the ‘ideal’ part,” Morrissey senator Josh Pasquesi said.

It was repeatedly noted that the chances of an exact-vote tie are extremely low, so odds are against this section of the constitution coming into play.

A round of applause accompanied the amendment’s approval.

The Committee for Academic Affairs introduced a proposal to change the way the class registration times are schedule. It suggests that the Registrar’s Office alternate students’ times between the first and second day of their class’ registration times, so that a person who gets a time on the first day one semester will automatically get a time on the second day the next semester, and vice versa. The proposal was approved, and will be used as a negotiating position with the Registrar.

The final two resolutions of the evening created a new hall commissioner position as liaison between the University Counseling Center and the dorm, and extending thanks to the stadium ushers for allowing seniors extra time to leave after the final home game. Both were passed unanimously.