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Students Reject Council Changes

By Brian R. Hecht

Undergraduates rejected a proposal which would have given them the power to elect the chair of the Undergraduate Council, council officials announced last night.

In a campus-wide referendum, students voted against the proposal by a 3 to 2 margin, council Vice Chair Noam Bramson '91 said late last night.

Only one-third of the student body voted in the three days of balloting, said Bramson, adding that results from Adams House had not yet been reported.

The proposed amendment to the council's constitution would have changed the office of chair--currently elected by council members--into that of "president," elected by the entire student body.

Both opponents and supporters of the amendment interpreted the results as a vote of confidence for the council.

"I would argue that people who did vote are satisfied with the process as it is and are satisfied with the direction the [council] is taking right now," said Bramson, who has been a vocal opponent of the amendment and voted against holding the referendum when it was proposed by the council last December.

And Chair Kenneth E. Lee '89, who supported the election changes, said, "The overwhelming sentiment among people who voted 'no' was that they were pleased with the direction of the council and were satisfied with the choices council representatives are making with leadership and trusted them to do what's best."

Bramson said the low turnout did not detract from the referendum's legitimacy. "Of course there was a certain amount of apathy, but many people who didn't vote were satisfied," said Bramson. "It's actually pretty good considering that in elections for representatives we consider 50 percent good," he said.

But other council members said the low turnout was an example of the kind of apathy holding a campuswide referendum was intended to combat.

"One of the main things that people who proposed the amendment intended was to cut down on student apathy. You can see the referendum didn't do that at all. Student apathy remains," said amendment opponent Rodolfo Ruiz '90. "People don't want to be more involved. They feel they don't have to."

Other members blamed the low turnout on a lack of publicity for the polling. "It's too bad because people weren't exposed to [the issue]," said Robert P. Mahnke '90, chair of the Services Committee.

"More publicity would have helped. It shows that it's hard to generate interest in what [the council] is doing," Mahnke said.

The amendment's defenders proposed it as a way of giving students a greater say in defining the council's direction. Opponents called the measure unnecessary and said it would place too much authority in one person at the expense of other council representatives.

The council rejected the proposed amendment in December by a 47-37 vote and then voted to hold the binding referendum. Student response this week closely reflected the results of the council vote.

"The council vote was certainly a very good representation of student opinion on this matter," Bramson said.

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