Slim margin in Senate approves election rules

Last year, ASSP election rules forbid students from using Facebook.com and other social networking Web sites to campaign in ASSP elections. However, changes to the guidelines will allow candidates to do so this year, though only through specific channels.

On Nov. 23, Senate approved the 2010 ASSP Officer Election Guidelines with an 11-9 vote. On Monday evening, an almost unanimous vote approved the same guidelines for Senate elections.

The approved guidelines for both groups now include the creation of an official Elections Task Force Facebook.com group, through which all candidates will be allowed to campaign on social networking Web sites. According to the guidelines, all candidates will have access to space on the task force page, allowing them to post their platform and links to personal campaign Web sites.

An additional amendment also limits social network campaigning to a hyperlink to the Elections Task Force page, allowing no specific candidate endorsement.

As in past years, the guidelines still prohibit students-at-large from posting unauthorized endorsements online; this year, however, the guidelines list no specific punitive action against candidates whose friends use networking sites to campaign.

Senior Alex Mech, senator-at-large, said trying to enforce this rule is an infringement on students’ right to free speech.

"If I want to support someone and put it as my status, I’m going to do that," Mech said. "I didn’t agree to these rules. I’m exercising my free speech because I didn’t agree to the rules as a non-candidate."

Sophomore Hill Hall Senator Kate Jendersee said that Elections Task Force and Senate will encourage candidates to tell friends not to put endorsements on Facebook.com.

"We want to limit the span of information spread in that way," she said.

Sophomore Ashton Hall Senator Matt Van Deren said that even though language is vague regarding punishment for candidates who break the rules, the task force does not encourage under-the-table campaigning on social networking Web sites.

"They have to campaign with a platform, not sabotage of the rules," he said. Junior Laura Hanes, senator for the School of Business and Economics, said the changes still did not go far enough to reach off-campus commuter students.

"There’s a huge disparity between connecting those two groups (candidates and commuters), and it’s largely because we don’t (allow campaigning) on Facebook," Hanes said.

However, Van Deren maintained that Elections Task Force’s changes were beneficial to commuter students because it allows them to see the candidates and be aware of elections, even if specific endorsements were not allowed.

In other news:

Senate unanimously approved $4,499 from the Rollover Contingency Fund to update and improve the ASSP office, located in the SUB. The money will support the first phase of the proposed update, said ASSP President Kevin McFarland. This phase includes removing cubicle walls and the addition of moveable tables, he said.

Senate discussed a by-law change for the SMC program, an amendment which would allow the program to select CSMCs before the start of spring quarter. Vice President of Ministries Chris Kyle said that the structure of the program necessitates earlier selection, even though no other ASSP organization allows selection of leadership before spring quarter. Because the constitution requires all by-law changes to sit for a week before coming to a vote, Senate will not vote on the amendment until the first week of winter quarter.

Senate briefly discussed the possibility of switching from quarters to a semester system, a topic that is also being discussed by members of Faculty Senate.

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Title: Slim margin in Senate approves election rules | Author: Melissa Steffan | Section: News | Published Date: 2009-12-02 | Internal ID: 6723