U.C. May Alter Bylaws For Popular Elections

Proposed bylaw changes the Undergraduate Council needs to administer popular elections for its president and vice-president were approved at last night's Student Affairs Committee meeting.

The proposed changes were compiled over the course of the semester by an informal committee chaired by Shilpa M. Jain '98. The bylaw changes will be considered by the full council at its meeting Sunday.

The major issues being considered are who will run the elections, how voting will be administered, how long candidates may campaign, how nominations will be made, how much candidates may spend, when the elections will take place and who can run for positions.

According to Campus Life Committee Co-chair Rudd W. Coffey '97, the points most likely to inspire debate are the timing of elections and the imposition of spending limits for candidates.

Two plans have been proposed for when elections should take place, one which would schedule elections for December and one which would schedule them for April.


According to constitutional amendments passed by the council last spring, terms for the popularly, elected officers will be year-long and will extend over the summer.

According to the recommendations made by the working committee, there are a number of pros and cons to both plans.

Advantages of winter elections include added momentum in the fall from having an experienced president and the ability more experienced officers to work with the administration over the summer.

Also, second-semester seniors, who many council members feel have failed to provide dedicated leadership in the past, will be ineligible for to run for these posts.

Committee members expressed concerns, however, that winter elections could force a president to serve with two radically different councils when new council members are elected in the fall.

They also worry that the hectic academic pace at the end of December would lead to lower voter turnout.

Spring elections, on the other hand, would allow candidates to run on their records from the previous council year, provide the continuity of having one president serve with one council for the entire term and foster greater interest from less-busy voters.

If elections were held in the spring, however, seniors would vote for a president they would never see serve and newly-elected officers might have already made plans preventing them from spending their summers working for the council.

Also, officers who are seniors would not be replaced until the end of their second semesters.

Members of the ad-hoc committee recommended that the council reimburse candidates for their campaign expenses up to a spending cap imposed by the council.

The council amended its constitution last spring to require a spending cap on campaigns, but did not specify an amount or who should fund campaigns. These issues remain very controversial, lain said.