The Undergraduate Council has passed a new constitution and bylaws by a phone poll, but some first year council members criticized the manner in which the vote was taken.
The new constitution and bylaws, which were drawn up by the re-evaluation committee this spring, will combine the five current standing committees into three: finance, campus life and student affairs. The bylaws also require the council to draw up a budget at the beginning of each academic year, and the chair of the council will be renamed the president.
Vice Chair David L. Hanselman '94 conducted a phone vote over the past two weeks since the last council meeting of the spring term. A three-quarters affirmative vote was needed to pass the bill.
The vote was 55 to 14 in favor of the package, according to Hanselman. He said the official membership of the council had been cut from 88 to 72 members at the last meeting because of unexcused absences, and that he could not contact three of the members.
With two fewer votes in favor, the measure would have failed. And if 16 members had not been dismissed at the last meeting, 55 votes have been far short of a three-fourths majority.
But some first-year council members said they felt pressured to vote for the package when contacted by Hanselman.
"Hanselman was definitely in favor [of the package]," said one first-year who voted against the changes to the constitution and bylaws. "It wasn't difficult to hear his disappointment with a 'no' vote. The upshot of the whole thing is whether how much you care about what [Hanselman] thinks can influence the vote."
The member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said first-years who wanted to gain influence on the council would be hesitant to disappoint a council executive over the phone.
Hanselman denied he attempted to influence council members to vote for the package, and said, "I posed [the question] in an objective fashion." He said he asked council members, "Are you going to vote on the re-evaluation package?" and then "chit-chat[ted] with them for a while. I [did]n't bias it in any fashion," Hanselman said.
Another first-year council member, however, disputed Hanselman's statements.
"The implication was clear that I was supposed to vote for the package. He said that it was a great thing, that they worked so hard to put it together, and that it had to go through this year," the member said.
The council member, who voted for the package "even though I had misgivings," said that Hanselman was impatient and clearly waiting for a positive answer.
"The reason we had to take a phone vote was to obtain the opinions of the people not present," Hanselman said. "Their opinions on the package and its content I would think would certainly outweigh what I thought. Any innuendoes I would make towards the package's positive aspects are in no way any type of pressure from me on to them.