For the third week this semester, senators chose to debate a bill that would rewrite the section of Student Government statutes that clarifies the regulations and responsibilities of those involved with SG elections. Although the bill was rescinded and sent back to the author, the rewrite stated that candidates would be free from any monetary restrictions, thereby allowing them to spend at will and keep no record of transactions.
As it stands, presidential candidates are allowed to spend $5,000 of their own money and senatorial candidates $100. Senators recently voted to move the presidential number to $3,000, though Supervisor of Elections Devin Lee said he never gave the candidates that figure.
Lee fielded questions from senators early in the evening as to why he chose to make revisions yet again. Lee said that the current rules don’t have any effect on the campaigns because candidates are able to lie about their expenses; he also added that he doesn’t believe candidates would become excessive with their spending just to win the election.
Senators argued that this change would interfere with the upcoming election and could cause problems for future candidacies.
“While I don’t totally disagree with (the bill), the election has already started,” senator Mark Vila said.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Davison said he agreed with Vila and questioned how it would look to the student body if a change of this nature were to be made at this point in the 2007 campaign season.
“You’ve set a standard of rules, you’ve set something that everyone in this room has already agreed to,” Davison said. “We’re questioning the integrity and prestige of this organization by changing (the bill).”Other senators argued that this would allow candidates to buy votes from their constituents.
Lee said that even if these changes were to pass, he had previously planned to regroup his staff at the end of the election season and again rewrite those parts that didn’t work.
“Changes will be made at the end of the elections anyway – don’t make them now,” Davison said.
One senator even said he felt it was just a way for Lee to get out of doing his work.”It is the ERC (Election Rules Commission) supervisor’s job to enforce these rules,” senator Umer Ahmed said. “If he doesn’t want to do his job, then I suggest he find a different one.”
Not all senators felt as strongly as Ahmed though, and a few even thought the revision was useful.
“There’s nothing to regulate spending right now … so what’s the difference?” senator Justin Hall said.
Another sore spot for many senators came up when a controversial bill that would require those involved with SG to maintain a higher grade point average than needed in previous years was revisited.
Several senators had hoped to rewrite a section of SG statutes that requires all SG officials and personnel to maintain a 2.0 or above GPA. The rewrite would force certain members of SG to hold a 2.5 or better.
In Tuesday’s meeting Vila – who is spearheading the initiative – said he would reduce the standard to 2.25, which eventually was again reduced to a 2.0 without a grace semester to pull it back up.
The bill was tabled until next week.