Student Association

SA committee considers changes to election procedures, rules

Zach Barlow | Staff Photographer

Under the changes being considered for the election process, the president and vice president would be elected individually.

UPDATED: March 20, 2017 at 7:40 p.m.

A newly formed Student Association committee is looking into the possibility of having candidates run for vice president rather than making the position ones the president appoints.

The Bylaw Review Committee, established during SA’s Feb. 20 meeting, is composed of four assembly members and two cabinet members who will be analyzing the organization’s bylaws individually and making sure the bylaws are clear.

Under the changes being considered for the election process, the president and vice president would be elected individually.

During the Bylaw Review Committee’s first meeting, the group decided to focus on Article V of the bylaws, which consists of rules regarding elections for SA president, vice president, comptroller and assembly representatives. Article V also touches on different election protocol regarding campaigning, debating and expenditures by candidates.

Janine Bogris, chair of the SA Board of Elections and Membership and a member on the Bylaw Review Committee, said the committee wanted to begin evaluating Article V first because members felt it would be one of the most complex bylaws.

“We knew Article V would be a lengthier discussion, so we wanted to begin with it,” Bogris, a junior public relations major, said.

Bogris said the upcoming election will not be affected by the committee’s discussions, as the committee has not made any final decision on whether to change the election process. Applications for a president and vice president ticket, as well as comptroller position, were closed to the student body on March 10 for the SA election in April for the 2017-18 academic year.

The process could change in the future, however. While this potential change would be different, it is not unprecedented.

“For a while it was the president got elected and then appointed a vice president similarly to how a cabinet member is appointed,” Bogris said.

Under current bylaws, once the president and vice president are elected, members of the student body can apply for the various SA cabinet positions before the beginning of the summer. Applicants are then interviewed by the president and vice president, and then it’s up to the assembly to confirm their appointment.

Another change the committee is analyzing is how to better engage those running for these positions with the Syracuse University student body. In last year’s election, 29 percent of the student body voted, up 5 percent from when former SA President Aysha Seedat and Vice President Jane Hong were elected in 2015.

Bylaw 5.13.2 states that campaigning is prohibited within 100 feet of an official polling location or within Schine Student Center. But a change to that bylaw could increase students’ awareness of the election and give candidates a place to talk directly with students about initiatives, Bogris said.

One possible change would be to reserve tables for different SA candidates in the Schine Atrium, a place where student traffic would be higher than usual, she said.

“I think making the candidates more accessible in high traffic areas of the university, like Schine, will be beneficial to the students,” Bogris said. “It will really give a chance to students to ask about ideas and initiatives. Also, it will start the personal connection that the future office holders need to represent the student body.”

Another topic the committee is discussing is how election violations will be handled. Bylaws 5.11 and 5.12.2 set a $10 fine for different violations, including candidates using the SA office as a campaign headquarters or posting campaign material onto trees, among other things.

Once the committee finalizes the changes, its members will work with the SA Administrative Operations Committee to make the changes official, Bogris said. The changes would then need to be approved through a vote by the assembly.

The changes hope to make it clearer to both candidates and SA members about how the election process is supposed to run, Bogris said.

“There is a lot of ambiguity in the (bylaws). So much is left up to discretion and that has led to problems before,” Bogris said.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, the proposed idea through which SA vice presidents may be elected in the future was misstated. The idea would mean candidates for SA vice presidents would run on an individual ticket rather than appearing on the joint ticket. The Daily Orange regrets this error.

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