Undergraduate Council Votes to Censure VP After Election Scandal

CORRECTION APPENDED

The Undergraduate Council voted to censure outgoing UC Vice President Kia J. McLeod ’10 for her role in the controversial November presidential election.

McLeod sent an e-mail to the entire student body from the official UC presidential account which stated—in conjunction with "an underlying concern about the validity of the voting process"—that Vice President-elect Eric N. Hysen ’11 "might still have" access to the official voting software.

According to the censure resolution, which required 10 signatories to be brought to the general Council, McLeod “did knowingly abuse the power of her office” by collaborating with former UC Student Affairs Committee Chair Tamar Holoshitz ’10 and former UC presidential candidate Benjamin P. Schwartz ’10—both campaign staffers for former presidential candidate George J.J. Hayward ’11 and his running mate Felix M. Zhang’11—to send the “unsubstantiated e-mail” from the official ucpres@fas.harvard.edu address. Furthermore, the resolution stated that by “officially distributing biased viewpoints as fact and therefore severely damaging the reputation of the [UC]...[McLeod] did violate ethical standards.”

Chris W. Danello ’12, who as UC parliamentarian was the main advocate for censure, said during the hearing that the motion to censure—an expression of the Council’s formal disapproval of a member’s actions that carries no other consequences—was not a personal vendetta against McLeod but rather a “simple question” of upholding the rules of the UC.

In her address to the Council, McLeod, who is also a Crimson video editor, said that she was “truly sorry” for her actions, but argued against the passing of the censure. “I really do feel that I took actions to rectify the problems that I am personally comfortable with...I personally didn’t have any bad intentions, it was just a critique of the process,” she said. “I am really sad that this has come to the point that it is affecting our productivity.”

Though some Council members, such as Hayward, argued during the debate period that the UC should move on from the drama surrounding the presidential elections and direct its attention back to the “business of the council,” the censure motion—which requires a majority vote—passed 26-15-1 by secret ballot.

“You can’t move forward when something this big happened...this is the only thing that students were talking about this year” said former UC member Jon T. Staff V ’10, who attended the meeting as a visitor.

Also in response to this year’s election debacle, the UC passed legislation creating an Election Reform Task Force, which will propose reforms to the independent Election Commission by March 2010.

Flores said the recent election exposed deep flaws in the EC—which is responsible for administering UC elections. “We realize the process is messed up...it’s credibility has been attacked,” she said.

Until the reforms are adopted, the UC’s Executive Board will replace the EC and administer the small number of special elections for House representatives that will take place during shopping period next semester.

“This is a temporary measure,” said Leverett representative Luis A. Martinez ’12. “Once we have reforms, the EC will again assume a much better, more effective role.”

The Council passed a record 12 additional pieces of legislation last night. These acts included an expansion of the UC TKTS program—which lotteries free event tickets to students—to include events in Boston, and an initiative to improve the online student events calendar.

—Staff writer Melody Y. Hu can be reached at melodyhu@fas.harvard.edu.

CORRECTION

An earlier version of the Dec. 7 news article "Undergraduate Council Votes to Censure VP After Election Scandal" incorrectly stated that an e-mail sent by Kia J. McLeod '10 alleged that Eric N. Hysen '11 had accessed the official voting software and tampered with the vote tally. In fact, McLeod merely wrote—in conjunction with "an underlying concern about the validity of the voting process"—that Hysen "might still have" access to the voting software.

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