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U.C. Misconduct May Invalidate Referendum

Constitutional Violations Are Seen

By Tara H. Arden-smith

A number of charges about the conduct of Undergraduate Council members in collecting votes on the fee hike referendum may invalidate the results, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said yesterday.

Council members violated both their constitution and referendum rules of conduct when they tabled at their own houses and without members of house committees present, council officials said.

In addition, ballots collected Wednesday were left unsecured in the council office, and at least one council member was charged with antagonizing voters.

"I didn't know these things were going on," said council President Carey W. Gabay '94. "I'm trying to make sure that the election is run fairly, but at the same time I have to try to stay away from the administration of the vote."

Unfortunately for the council, as Gabay distances himself Epps said the administration is closing in. In fact, Epps said the new charges would be dealt with at an emergency meeting of the Committee on College Life on Monday afternoon.

"These various allegations are very serious, and they could have the effect of invalidating this referendum," Epps said. "It sounds like things are a bit out of control, and I think the administration is going to have to take a more active role."

After conducting a full day of referendum tabling, the council discovered at Wednesday night's executive board meeting that its constitution prohibits members from conducting balloting at their own houses.

The council's constitution specifically stipulates that "no member shall be able to tabulate or proctor votes with his/her district."

"That clause wasn't brought to our attention until [Wednesday] night," said council Vice President Joshua D. Liston '95. "There was no original edict, but last night we did reschedule everybody for tabling."

But according to council member Greg J. Davis '94-'96, Liston had initially said that council members could not table at their own houses and then changed his mind when he was handling out the referendum packages Tuesday night.

"Originally we were told that we couldn't, but then Josh said we could," Davis said. "And I asked him several times to make sure I heard him right, but he specifically asked me to table at my house."

Council members James W. Fields '95 said that he too was originally told to table at his own house by Liston. And those instructions were never revised.

"Josh Liston made no mention of the fact that tabling at my house was inappropriate," Fields said. "I was never officially notified that I should not do that."

In addition, most council members violated another code of referendum conduct--this one set specifically for the referendum vote.

"The council voted to have one council memberand one house committee member at each votingstation," Liston said. "But a lot of the housecommittees were not cooperative, or else theycouldn't get enough people to table, and yes, alot of U.C. members tabled alone."

Former council Vice-President Melissa Garza '94charged that Liston had been negligent innotifying house committees that they would becharged with this responsibility.

"The U.C. has known for two weeks that we weregoing to have to conduct this referendum," Garzasaid. "At that point house committee chairs shouldhave been notified."

At Winthrop House, were Garza lives, the housecommittee chair was notified only the night beforethe committee was expected to begin tabling, Garzasaid.

"A lot of house committees felt like it was nottheir problem," Garza said. "Before the councilvoted to include the house committees in thisprocess, we probably should have consulted them.And we at least should have notified them in areasonable amount of time."

Some council members also expressed concernthat completed ballots were left unattended in thecouncil office on Wednesday, providing an easytarget for tampering .

Liston said that the council initially had madeno plans to secure the ballots. The council placedthe untabulated ballots in a locked box only as ofyesterday, Liston added.

"At first, we didn't have anywhere to put them,that's true," Liston said. "But everything islocked up now, and I don't think anything happenedto them before that."

One Mather House resident detailed a specificcase of conduct violation involving former councilchair Michael P. Beys '94, who has been at thecenter of a number of council scandals in thepast.

According to Dawn Austin '92-'95, Beys, whoalso lives in Mather, harassed and intimidatedpotential voters while tabling there.

Austin said she was shocked by Beys' behavior,which she considered "both inappropriate andcondescending."

Austin said she approached Beys to vote on thefee hike referendum and was asked if she had anyquestions. She said ""Sure--why the rateincrease?' And he gave me his spiel, which Ilistened to."

"When I began to vote, I circled 'no,' and Mikewas watching me," Austin said." And he said,'Obviously this was a waste of my breath." I toldhim that I wanted to give him an opportunity tosay something and explain the council's rationale,and I told him that an informed vote is the bestvote."

According to Austin, Beys then challenged herdecision and asked her why she voted against thehike. Austin said that she didn't think that wasan appropriate question for a council member to beasking her.

"I said you can ask me questions, but just notthat one. And as I walked away Mike told me that Iwas very self-absorbed," Austin added.

Beys confirmed Austin's account of the exchange, but described it as a "misunderstanding" in aninterview last night. "I was provoked [by Austin'squestion], but I Kept my cool."

"She was making a point by voting 'no' right infront of me," Beys added. "It wasn't an accidentthat she did it with an in-your-face gesture afterI had spent a lot of time and answered herquestions."

But Austin said she only responded to Beys'offer to provide background information. "I wasn'taware that him telling me things was conditionalon my 'yes' vote."

Austin said she had been warned by herroommate, who had voted earlier, that Beys was"very confrontational." Ironically, Austincharacterized Beys' conduct as "in-your-face" aswell.

"Just the fact that he obviously looked at myballot was totally inappropriate, and his tacticswere intimidation tactics," Austin said.

"I know that a lot of people saw what was goingon and got turned off. They either decided to tryto vote when he wasn't there or not to vote atall," Austin added.

According to Garza, Beys should have knownbetter than to try to influence the vote. "Twoweeks ago the executive board concluded thatabsolutely no information could be given out tostudents by council members doing tabling, even ifthey were asked direct questions."

"The rules were made very specific and veryclear, that influencing the vote wasinappropriate," Garza added. "And Mike Beys was atthat meeting."

But Beys said last night that he didn't thinkhe did anything wrong. "As I understood it, ifsomeone asked us a direct question about thereferendum we could answer it and speak ourminds," Beys said. "it wasn't a gag order."

But Gabay said Beys went too far. "Councilmembers know that they shouldn't influence votersand they certainly know they shouldn't antagonizevoters," he said. "I just don't know what to say[about Beys]."

"These are grounds to invalidate some of theballots," Garza said.

The Civil Liberties Union of Harvard (CLUH)even voted last night to take a formal position onthe conduct of the referendum.

"This totally calls into question thelegitimacy of the votes," said Jol A. Silversmith'94, former director of CLUH. "There is no way tosort out the valid votes from the invalidones--this certainly can't then be called anacceptable referendum."

But, Silversmith said, perhaps the council hasalready given up. "There was no one at all tablingat Mather tonight.

"The council voted to have one council memberand one house committee member at each votingstation," Liston said. "But a lot of the housecommittees were not cooperative, or else theycouldn't get enough people to table, and yes, alot of U.C. members tabled alone."

Former council Vice-President Melissa Garza '94charged that Liston had been negligent innotifying house committees that they would becharged with this responsibility.

"The U.C. has known for two weeks that we weregoing to have to conduct this referendum," Garzasaid. "At that point house committee chairs shouldhave been notified."

At Winthrop House, were Garza lives, the housecommittee chair was notified only the night beforethe committee was expected to begin tabling, Garzasaid.

"A lot of house committees felt like it was nottheir problem," Garza said. "Before the councilvoted to include the house committees in thisprocess, we probably should have consulted them.And we at least should have notified them in areasonable amount of time."

Some council members also expressed concernthat completed ballots were left unattended in thecouncil office on Wednesday, providing an easytarget for tampering .

Liston said that the council initially had madeno plans to secure the ballots. The council placedthe untabulated ballots in a locked box only as ofyesterday, Liston added.

"At first, we didn't have anywhere to put them,that's true," Liston said. "But everything islocked up now, and I don't think anything happenedto them before that."

One Mather House resident detailed a specificcase of conduct violation involving former councilchair Michael P. Beys '94, who has been at thecenter of a number of council scandals in thepast.

According to Dawn Austin '92-'95, Beys, whoalso lives in Mather, harassed and intimidatedpotential voters while tabling there.

Austin said she was shocked by Beys' behavior,which she considered "both inappropriate andcondescending."

Austin said she approached Beys to vote on thefee hike referendum and was asked if she had anyquestions. She said ""Sure--why the rateincrease?' And he gave me his spiel, which Ilistened to."

"When I began to vote, I circled 'no,' and Mikewas watching me," Austin said." And he said,'Obviously this was a waste of my breath." I toldhim that I wanted to give him an opportunity tosay something and explain the council's rationale,and I told him that an informed vote is the bestvote."

According to Austin, Beys then challenged herdecision and asked her why she voted against thehike. Austin said that she didn't think that wasan appropriate question for a council member to beasking her.

"I said you can ask me questions, but just notthat one. And as I walked away Mike told me that Iwas very self-absorbed," Austin added.

Beys confirmed Austin's account of the exchange, but described it as a "misunderstanding" in aninterview last night. "I was provoked [by Austin'squestion], but I Kept my cool."

"She was making a point by voting 'no' right infront of me," Beys added. "It wasn't an accidentthat she did it with an in-your-face gesture afterI had spent a lot of time and answered herquestions."

But Austin said she only responded to Beys'offer to provide background information. "I wasn'taware that him telling me things was conditionalon my 'yes' vote."

Austin said she had been warned by herroommate, who had voted earlier, that Beys was"very confrontational." Ironically, Austincharacterized Beys' conduct as "in-your-face" aswell.

"Just the fact that he obviously looked at myballot was totally inappropriate, and his tacticswere intimidation tactics," Austin said.

"I know that a lot of people saw what was goingon and got turned off. They either decided to tryto vote when he wasn't there or not to vote atall," Austin added.

According to Garza, Beys should have knownbetter than to try to influence the vote. "Twoweeks ago the executive board concluded thatabsolutely no information could be given out tostudents by council members doing tabling, even ifthey were asked direct questions."

"The rules were made very specific and veryclear, that influencing the vote wasinappropriate," Garza added. "And Mike Beys was atthat meeting."

But Beys said last night that he didn't thinkhe did anything wrong. "As I understood it, ifsomeone asked us a direct question about thereferendum we could answer it and speak ourminds," Beys said. "it wasn't a gag order."

But Gabay said Beys went too far. "Councilmembers know that they shouldn't influence votersand they certainly know they shouldn't antagonizevoters," he said. "I just don't know what to say[about Beys]."

"These are grounds to invalidate some of theballots," Garza said.

The Civil Liberties Union of Harvard (CLUH)even voted last night to take a formal position onthe conduct of the referendum.

"This totally calls into question thelegitimacy of the votes," said Jol A. Silversmith'94, former director of CLUH. "There is no way tosort out the valid votes from the invalidones--this certainly can't then be called anacceptable referendum."

But, Silversmith said, perhaps the council hasalready given up. "There was no one at all tablingat Mather tonight.

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