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Proposal Would Change Faculty Council Election Procedures

By Karl M. Aspelund, Crimson Staff Writer

The procedure for election to the Faculty Council, the highest elected body in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, could undergo significant structural changes for the first time in the body’s 46-year history if members of the Faculty vote in favor of proposed changes at their monthly meeting Tuesday.

Members of the Faculty Council Election Procedures Committee, citing the “confusing” system currently in place, will propose that the 18-person Council be composed of three cohorts of six representatives each, with an election taking place each year to elect one cohort. Each representative would serve three-year terms, according to a document distributed to the Faculty in advance of their meeting. In each cohort, three seats would be designated for one representative from each of the three FAS academic divisions, and three would be reserved for “at-large” representatives.

If approved, that system would replace a proportional representation system created in the fall of 1969, according to the same document.

Currently, faculty members vote for the Council’s membership by ranking candidates, who must meet a threshold, which is around six votes every year. Once elected, members serve three-year terms.

The current system also requires that Council seats are distributed equally among three areas, the Arts and Humanities, Natural and Applied Sciences, and Social Sciences, each with four tenured and two non-tenured members.

But that system leads to lower voting participation among Faculty, and leads to situations where candidates with fewer first-place votes than others are elected, according to the proposal document.

The current system "is unnecessarily complicated to achieve the objectives of the Council and does not reflect the preferences of those who do vote,” the proposal reads.

Lecturers and preceptors cannot vote in Council elections, and the committee notes that, while that rule was often discussed at meetings, it could not find a “satisfactory resolution” to their representation, saying that it “deserves further discussion by the Council.”

Under the proposal, each department chair can nominate one faculty member to run for the seat in the division with which the department is affiliated, while any faculty member can nominate up to six colleagues to run for an “at-large” seat. Candidates with more than three nominations would be able to stand in the “at-large” election.

Any one department cannot hold more than two Council seats and will not be permitted to participate in an election for either classification of seat in that case.

The candidate with the most votes in a division would win the divisional seat, and the three “at-large” candidates with the most votes would take the “at-large” seats. Ballots would be administered electronically.

—Staff writer Karl M. Aspelund can be reached at karl.aspelund@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @kma_crimson.

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