Senate passes changes to GM Week guidelines

On Monday, during its weekly meeting, the Student Senate adjusted and passed the 2012 GM Week Handbook. Chair of the Rules and Elections Committee Reilly Hamilton ’12 proposed the majority of the changes.

The handbook outlines the rules and procedures regarding elections during Grand Marshal week, as well as all prior preparations. Each section focuses on a specific aspect of the election:

• Section one states which students are eligible for each elected position. It also mentions the policy for running for multiple positions—it is not allowed.

• Section two defines political parties in the context of these elections. It also provides a list of rules by which these parties must follow, especially in terms of campaigning and budgeting.

• Section three details the procedures for nomination, including acquisition of the appropriate forms and submission information.

• Sections four through six include information on campaigning procedures, the sign policy for election candidates, and the budgeting all campaigning activities.

• Sections seven and eight involve the actual elections. In particular, policies for primaries and write-in candidates are outlined.

• Section nine states that candidates must assist in preparations for GM Week.

• Section 10 outlines the procedure for counting votes, while Section 11 describes the honor code by which all candidates are expected to act.

• Sections 12 and 13 list the Rules and Elections Committee’s punishment policies.

• Section 14 describes how to contact the Senate and each candidate.

• Section 15 enumerates the authority of the Rules and Elections Committee.

The first proposed change to the handbook was the addition of section one, item six. It states that all candidates must submit platform statements. Hamilton said that “the intent of this change is to increase voter information.” This, he mentioned, has been an issue in the past; many students did not know what particular candidates stood for.

A one-word change was made to section two, item 10. Party affiliation will no longer be mentioned on ballots. Inclusion of party names should not be necessary to form a connection between candidates, Hamilton stated. “It added a bit of extra humor to the ballot that we didn’t want … the ballot is supposed to be clean and free of message,” he said. In previous years, students had voted for candidates based on party names such as the “Mario Party,” rather than issues candidates were concerned about.

Section four, item six, part three was added, requiring that candidates contribute equally to their parties’ budgets. This is to “ensure that everyone in the party benefits equally from the amount of exposure generated by the party.” Hamilton also mentioned that the main purpose of a party is to allow a group of students to pool their funds to buy things that an individual candidate would be unable to afford.

Additional minor changes were made to the document. These include a standardization of printing rates for campaign posters and reorganization of various clauses. Item two of section five, for example, was shifted upward in the section to increase emphasis on it.

Senator Gretchen Sileo ‘14, newly appointed by the 2014 Class Council, proposed a change to the wording of section seven, item one. The wording of the item states that, if the number of candidates is more than twice the number of open positions, the Rules and Elections Committee may decide to hold primary elections. Sileo proposed that the decision would not be up to the committee’s discretion, but rather a required action. After debate among the present senators, however, the motion failed 3-10-0.

Following this motion, the Senate voted on all proposed changes and the handbook itself. The motion passed unanimously, 14-0-0.

In addition to the GM Week Handbook, various Senate groups are preparing changes and presentations to benefit students. The rest of Monday’s meeting was spent discussing upcoming plans. The Finance, Facilities, and Administration Committee is planning the “Student Safety Panel,” which will occur at a later date. The Communications Group is planning a program for April that will provide students in freshman residence halls with information regarding elections and all political positions. The Independent Council will be holding a non-greek social event later this semester. The Interfraternity Council will be proposing an amendment to the Union Constitution, which will allow both the IFC and the Panhellenic Council to vote at Senate meetings.

For more information about the 2012 GM Week Handbook, students can view the document at http://elections.union.rpi.edu/wiki/index.php/2012_GM_Week_Handbook/. Students who have any other elections or Senate related questions can contact JustAsk@rpi.edu for more information.

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