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Transparency needed in student government

Staff Editorial | Friday, February 27, 2009

On Monday, Notre Dame held elections for class council. Two of the elections, sophomore and senior class council, had no reported violations, but this wasn’t the case in the junior class council race.

Both tickets were accused of at least one election violation. The ticket of Caitlin Pulte, Henry Shine, Luke Stavole and Tim Castellini was found not guilty on their charge, but the ticket of Kevin Kimberly, Alexa Doyle, Dylan Fernandez and Rachel Roseberry was found guilty of two charges brought against them. Since the election resulted in a runoff, the Kimberly ticket was not allowed to spend any additional money on their campaign during the runoff period.

What exactly was this ticket guilty of? The student body doesn’t know, because the Judicial Council Elections Committee can’t reveal the violations in accordance with guidelines set forth in the Student Constitution.

Judicial Council president George Chamberlain said it was important to protect the integrity of the candidates and that revealing the violations would further damage the campaigns.

This policy should change and student government should amend the Constitution to allow the Judicial Council to disclose election violations.

While class council elections aren’t exactly the most pressing issue for the student body, students are still electing a group of their peers to represent them for the coming year and work to better their time at the University. In making that decision, students have a right to know how the tickets have conducted themselves during their campaigns because it might affect how the tickets represent the students while in office. If the tickets are cutting corners in their campaigns, who’s to say they won’t cut corners once they get in office?

By not revealing the violations, the Judicial Council said it is trying to preserve the integrity of the candidates. If anything, keeping the violations a secret hurts the integrity of the candidates. The violations are hidden from the students, and those unfamiliar with the process of running for class council have no idea what the ticket could have done to deserve this punishment. If the Judicial Council revealed the violations, students can judge how bad the allegations are for themselves, rather than having to speculate what might have happened. Under the current system, students are supposed to simply place their faith in the Judicial Council and take its word that the problem has been resolved.

Instead of containing the damage done by the allegations, the Judicial Council is perpetuating it, and is not helping students make an informed decision about their future leaders.