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Members pass resolutions to improve fields, elections

Melissa Flanagan | Thursday, September 29, 2011

Student Senate passed resolutions to improve West Quad and Riehle Fields and to reform the election process at its meeting Wednesday.

The proposed changes to West Quad and Riehle Fields, commonly known as McGlinn and Stepan Fields, respectively, include lighting the fields and covering them in turf.

Residence Life Chair John Sanders said the much-needed improvement of these fields was brought to the attention of the Residence Life committee two years ago.

“Use of them has just gone up to such an extent that it would be better for us to have improved facilities there,” he said. “Light the field, double the amount of time you can be there, which leads to increased use, which is why we need turf.”

Sanders said turf would improve the durability of the field.

“With turf we wouldn’t need the maintenance,” he said. “The field is compressed with people stomping around and you can’t grow grass if it’s too compressed and the field quality goes down.”

When the idea was initially proposed, Sanders said RecSports and university architects created a plan based on student need and desires.

“But the plan has not been acted on,” he said. “This resolution is an attempt to reignite the push for this project by demonstrating student need and desire for it.”

Because parts of Riehle fields are already lit, Sanders said the lighting is mostly intended for McGlinn fields and the turf is intended for both.

Sanders said evidence of the need for these improvements can be seen through intramural and club uses.

“The two most important factors are that last year there were almost 400 intramural games played at Riehle and that club use accounted for over 50 hours per week,” he said.

The second resolution passed by Senate comprised two main areas of concern in the election process, Oversight Chair Ben Noe said.

Noe said the first area of concern makes substantive changes in terms of policy issues.

The three main policies changed in the resolution are the allegation confidentiality requirement, the question of what constitutes a listserv and how candidate endorsements are handled.

Former Oversight Chair Paige Becker said in past years, if an allegation was made against a particular candidate, then that candidate and the accusing person met with the election committee and would both present their cases.

“Then the two parties would leave and the election committee had a hearing and discussed their points,” Becker said.

Following the hearing, Noe said candidates would be informed of the committee’s decision, but would not be told any reasons why the committee made that decision.

Candidates then had to decide whether or not they wanted to appeal the decision, Noe said. If they decided to appeal they would be told the committee’s reasoning only a few minutes before the appeal hearing.

“They had to explain why they thought the violation was wrong but at the same time they were also hearing for the first time exactly what that violation was,” Noe said.

With the proposed changes, the vice president of elections is now required to give the candidates a detailed description of the committee’s decision process, explaining what they found them guilty of and why.

“We’re trying to open up the election committee a little more,” Noe said. “It was one of the complaints from last year.

In addition, if an allegation is made, the election committee will not release the results of the election to the student body until the allegation is resolved.

Another issue raised in last year’s election was the question of what constitutes a listserv.

Under the previous rules, the constitution stated candidates were not allowed to campaign via listserv, but it did not specify what exactly a listserv was.

“We decided that a listserv would be defined as any email that ends in ‘@listserv.nd.edu’,” Noe said. “That’s what cannot be used in a campaign.”

Last year, an allegation was made saying a candidate used a listserv to campaign, Noe said. However, the committee decided that a list of student names, manually typed out, would not be considered a listserv.

In terms of endorsements, Noe said previously candidates were not allowed to solicit endorsements, but were allowed to campaign on them.

“But how do you define when a candidate is soliciting an endorsement or campaigning on an endorsement they didn’t solicit?” he said.

With the changes, tickets are allowed to solicit and campaign on endorsements from student groups. However, the groups are not allowed to spend any allocated or unallocated funds on the endorsement.

Noe said any group in the Student Union, such as Student Senate, is banned from endorsing candidates. In addition, tickets may not accept or campaign on endorsements from University offices or departments.

Last year’s election committee also made recommendations, which were taken into account in this resolution.

“Because last year’s election system was fairly new as well, we wanted to work out some kinks we ran across,” Noe said.

The main goal of these changes was to constrain the amount of time in which an election could take place, Noe said.

In the past, if possible allegations and a run-off election were taken into account, Noe said the election could remain undecided for weeks, ultimately running into Junior Parent’s Weekend.

To avoid that, the committee compressed the amount of time in which allegations can be made and in which certain bodies need to meet during the election process.

First, the election day was moved from a Monday to the previous Wednesday.

On election day, the polls will still close at 8 p.m. and students can file allegations until 11:59 p.m. The election committee then has 24 hours to convene to hear the allegation.

After the conclusion of the hearing, the accused ticket has 12 hours to file an appeal. If an appeal is filed, Senate is required to meet within 24 hours to hear the appeal.

After the decision of Senate, the election committee has 24 hours to meet and make a final decision.

If a run-off election is required, the run-off debate would occur Sunday afternoon and the run-off election would be held Monday.

Noe said if all the aforementioned events take place the absolute latest decision would be released two Fridays after the initial primary election.

Becker said one main reason for these changes was the decision to withhold election results if an allegation was filed.

“If the election results were held up for a really long amount of time, then it would delay the run-off,” she said. “So we compressed the time that an allegation and appeal process could possibly take and moved the election and run-off election so the timeline would always fit between them.”