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UGBC Revises Rules For 2014 Elections

Heights Editor

Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013

Updated: Sunday, February 16, 2014 18:02

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Nathan McGuire - Heights Editor

On Monday, the Elections Committee (EC) hosted a mandatory meeting for all candidate teams interested in running for UGBC president and vice president. The EC used most of the time to introduce an extensive set of changes to both the election season and the rules that teams must abide by, including the movement of the race to February and the shortening of the campaigning period to two weeks.

The meeting, facilitated by EC members Ross Fishman, CSOM ’14, and Rachel Fagut, CSOM ’14, was attended by three candidate teams and began with announcing the new dates for the election cycle. The campaign kickoff and t-shirt distribution will occur on Feb. 3 in the Vanderslice Cabaret Room to allow for greater student body attendance. Campaigning will occupy the following two weeks, with primary voting on Feb. 10; the final debate shortly after on Feb. 12; and final voting from Feb. 13 to Feb.14. These dates signify both a shift to hold the election cycle significantly earlier than it occurred last year, as well as a notable shortening of the campaign period.

“It was such a drain on the people running in terms of grades, money, and sleep,” Fishman said. “It is more for the candidates’ benefit than anything.” This change is the result of the University’s insistence that the campaign cycle in years past has taken too much time—leading to detrimental effects on those running and a loss of interest from the student body as campaigns lingered on. This year, the EC hopes a shorter election period will more adequately sustain student interest in the race.

“I actually think total votes will go up, because I think a lot of times in the past people just got tired of the amount of campaigning,” Fagut said. While it remains to be seen whether the student body will more actively engage this elections race, the EC is also confident that the earlier cycle will help the winners of the election get a firmer grasp on the government structure than in years past.

“It gives the new president and VP ample time to learn under the past system. They will have all of March, April, and May to learn from the past government,” Fishman said. Additionally, the placement of the presidential elections a few weeks prior to Student Assembly (SA) elections will allow unsuccessful candidates the opportunity to sustain their involvement in UGBC—a feature that was not present in past years. The gap between these elections will also give the EC time to undergo a rigorous evaluation process of the changes they made to the elections format in order to make sure that SA elections run as smoothly as possible.

Although the dates of the presidential/vice-presidential election cycle and length of campaigning were mainly mandated by the University, the EC discussed a variety of other changes that were generated internally and passed through Student Programs Office (SPO) administrators. Smaller scale changes include having candidates get their materials approved only through SPO instead of by SPO and UGBC like in past years. The EC has also worked with the Office of Residential Life to create a regimented dorm campaigning schedule in which teams can only go door-to-door when checked in by EC members during a few allotted time slots.

Another change aims to crack down on the abuse of social networking sites—namely Facebook pages for candidate teams—by having a member of the EC create Facebook pages for each team and keep them closed until campaigning begins, when team members can be added as administrators.

“We’ve had some issues in past years with Facebook pages for candidates posting things that were not allowed and that went against several rules in the code,” Fishman said. “This way, as an administrator, we can immediately get rid of that.”

The most significant change, however, is a new sanctions system for violations on the part of candidates in the election. The EC split the sanctions into four categories: level four signifies disqualification from the race and can be earned through campaigning in the presence of alcohol as well as repeat major offenses; level three forces a team to start with a negative amount of votes on election day and can be earned through smearing, sabotage, or off-campus sponsors; level two leads to suspension from the race, and removal of t-shirts and other elections privileges; and level one is a warning issued to the violating team.

In light of past elections, this year’s slew of changes reflects the EC’s attempt to make the UGBC presidential elections a cleaner, more ethical process. Fagut believes that these changes will make for a better elections season this year, along with a broader recognition of the EC’s role on campus.

“I think through these changes we are going to become a lot more visible to the campus body, and they will understand what we do during the elections season,” Fagut said. 

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