The Undergraduate Council voted last night to hold a campuswide referendum during the week of May 1 on whether students should directly elect the council president and vice president.
The council itself will vote on direct elections at next week's meeting. If members fail to pass the bill calling for direct elections, the question will be put to the students along with a referendum on a new school mascot.
Council President Joshua D. Liston '95 proposed the bill in accordance with his campaign promise to make the council more representative of students.
"If the council won't pass the bill for popular elections," Liston said, "the students should be able to."
David L. Hanselman '94-'95, last semester's council president, said he supports the resolution because direct elections would give the council more clout in dealing with the administration.
"It's hard to go in to the administration and say what the students feel when you're not popularly elected," Hanselman said.
Chair of the student affairs committee Randall A. Fine '96 said he opposes the resolution because he feels that popular elections may not produce the desired effect of making students more interested in the council.
"At the University of Kentucky, for example, they have popular elections for student government officers," Fine said. "Candidates there spend upwards of $10,000 to get elected, and only 10 percent of the student body votes in the elections."
Christopher R. McFadden '97, who is a Crimson editor, moved to amend the resolution so that a cap of $200 would be placed on campaign spending in a popular election.
"I think it's dangerous to allow students to spend as much money on an election as they want," McFadden said. "This is Harvard. Somebody's going to spend $12,000. Somebody's going to spend $12,000,000."
The amendment, which passed last night, will be up for vote along with the popular elections issue next week.
The bill originally called for students to vote on direct elections for the council treasurer and secretary as well, but Hanselman amended the bill to deal with elections of only the president and vice-president.
"The president and vice-president set the tone for the council," Hanselman said. "Students should vote for that, not the more technical jobs."
Details of the bill to be considered next week have not yet been set and could be different form those in the referendum, Liston said.
If the council passes the bill next week, Liston said, the May referendum will not take place. If the referendum does take place and passes, he said, the council will make the necessary changes to its bylaws at its meeting on May 7.