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Council Approves Popular Elections

Top Officers to Be Chosen Campus-Wide

By Todd F. Braunstein

The Undergraduate Council approved a bylaws change early this morning instituting popular elections of its president and vice president in April 1996 and every subsequent December.

The bylaws package was approved after a marathon five-hour meeting during which the council was booted from Harvard Hall 104 by security guards and reconvened in the cafe at Loker Commons until just after midnight.

The council tabled the remainder of the elections package, leaving unresolved the questions of how the elections will be administered, how much money candidates spend on campaigns and when precisely the terms of office will begin, among others.

Council President Robert M. Hyman '98 said he was confident the council would consider those measures soon, even in light of the seven-month delay between last May's constitutional amendment establishing the popular elections and today's bylaws change beginning to implement them.

With the council operating on barely more than half of its membership, some members tried to adjourn the meeting so the measures could be considered with more reasoned debate. But Hyman pushed to continue.

"As it stands now, it's ambiguous," said Hyman during the debate. "I'd like tomorrow's headline to say at least that the ambiguity's gone."

After the meeting, Hyman hailed the council for making the decision rather than postponing the measure until next month.

"I think this bylaws package has received comprehensive attention with a council subcommittee, Hyman said. "The clear preference to end ambiguity was displayed. The students will have elections in April."

Those speaking for December elections emphasized that holding them in the winter will allow the new officers to have momentum when they begin their term.

They argued that December elections would allow the council president to synchronize his/her vision with other campus leaders elected at that time. They also added that having elections in December would allow the new officers to work for the council during the summer.

Those speaking against December elections argued that April elections would provide better weather to campaign in and first-year students with the ability to not only make informed choices among the candidates but also the opportunity to be realistic candidates.

The council also defeated, reconsidered and then tabled for a later date a constitutional amendment that would have allowed non-council members to seek the presidency and vice presidency in the popular elections.

Some council members, including one council-wide officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, criticized Rudd W. Coffey '97 for sponsoring and speaking extensively on the bill. Coffey has already declared that he will run for president this spring.

"This will come back to haunt him," said council member Noah R. Freeman '98, accusing Coffey of having a conflict of interest.

Other Business

The council also approved a long and fairly uncontroversial slate of other bills.

The council unanimously agreed to spend $1,650 to sponsor a computerized "data match" questionnaire.

The student government also passed a series of largely insubstantial changes to its bylaws. Some of the amendments involved grammatical changes while others cleared up ambiguities such as requiring the council to "maintain an official Council office" rather than specifying the location of that office.

The council also unanimously agreed to provide $250 per month for funding of ad hoc student groups not officially recognized by the Dean of Student's Office.

The council stipulated that all groups must meet the requirements for official University recognition in order to obtain the money. The bill was necessary because of the lengthy recognition process, its sponsors said.

The council unanimously agreed to launch a series of optional seminars on Harvard history during orientation week.

The council approved another bylaws change explicitly listing the College-wide committees to which the Student Affairs Committee appoints members.

Finally, the council agreed to co-sponsor--but not fund--a campus-wide Game-a-thon over intersession with the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association (HRSFA). The council's Finance Committee had previously denied funding for the event, and a movement last night to provide $25 for publicity was rebuffed

The council unanimously agreed to spend $1,650 to sponsor a computerized "data match" questionnaire.

The student government also passed a series of largely insubstantial changes to its bylaws. Some of the amendments involved grammatical changes while others cleared up ambiguities such as requiring the council to "maintain an official Council office" rather than specifying the location of that office.

The council also unanimously agreed to provide $250 per month for funding of ad hoc student groups not officially recognized by the Dean of Student's Office.

The council stipulated that all groups must meet the requirements for official University recognition in order to obtain the money. The bill was necessary because of the lengthy recognition process, its sponsors said.

The council unanimously agreed to launch a series of optional seminars on Harvard history during orientation week.

The council approved another bylaws change explicitly listing the College-wide committees to which the Student Affairs Committee appoints members.

Finally, the council agreed to co-sponsor--but not fund--a campus-wide Game-a-thon over intersession with the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association (HRSFA). The council's Finance Committee had previously denied funding for the event, and a movement last night to provide $25 for publicity was rebuffed

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