February 7, 2008

Resolution Proposes That Student Body Elect S.A. President and V.P.

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Cornell is currently the only Ivy in which the president and vice president of the governing student association are not elected directly by the student body. However, tomorrow this may change after the Student Assembly votes on Resolution 12, which proposes that the entire student body elect the S.A. president and vice president directly.
Currently the president and executive vice president of the S.A. are elected by other assembly members.
The resolution was co-sponsored by Vince Hartman ’08, Arts and Sciences rep., and Director of Elections Mark Coombs ’08, rep. at large.
Hartman said, “Mark Coombs and I have always felt that the president and vice president should be elected by the student body because they directly represent the students.”
The president of the S.A., the official representative of the Cornell student body, both chairs S.A. meetings and interacts with the administration, the media and the community on behalf of Cornell students.
The resolution would delegate two of the at-large seats for the president and vice president positions so instead of voting for representatives-at-large, students would vote specifically for the president and vice president.
A candidate would only be able to run for one of the positions. If the candidate does not win the election, then the candidate would not be a member of the S.A. Hartman said that he believes this will ensure that only the best candidates will run. Because the S.A. previously voted against having candidates run on the same ticket, presidential and vice presidential candidates would not be able to campaign and run together.
Many students are not aware that the president is elected internally. The goal of the resolution is essentially to make the election process more democratic.
Vijay Sarathy ’08 said, “It is better for the students to directly vote for the president and vice president, otherwise it is no longer like a direct democracy. Also, students will have more faith in a president that they have voted for themselves.”
Some students, however, do not have a problem with the S.A. president being elected internally.
“The S.A. is working more together so they know each other better. Students as a whole might not know everyone as well, and they might not be able to make as informed of a decision,” Laura Pursel ’10 said.
The campaigning process should help students to get to know the candidates. It should also help with voter turnout. In recent years there has not been a significant student turnout for elections, but if students know they are voting for the president and vice president of the S.A. instead of just representatives, they may be more motivated to vote.
Sarathy said, “I transferred from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where it seemed that more of the students voted because there was more advertisement.”
According to Hartman, voter turnout will be higher because students will be more interested in electing the president of their student government, like in real elections where voter turnout is higher for the presidential elections.
According to Hartman, more issues that are pertinent to students will be addressed because the individuals running for president will feel that they are representing the student body more directly.
Candidates will be held responsible for carrying out their promises to the entire student body instead of just to a select few members.
The S.A. will be voting on Resolution 12 today at 4:45 p.m. in The Straight Memorial Room. All students are welcome to attend.