February 8, 2008

S.A. Votes ‘Yes’ on Direct Election of President, V.P.

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Cornell is no longer the only Ivy whose president and vice president of the governing student assembly are not elected by the student body.
Yesterday, the Student Assembly passed Resolution 12, which states that the president and executive vice president of the S.A. will be elected by the entire student body in all future elections. The resolution passed with a 15-1-3 vote.
Specifically, the resolution details that two of the eight at-large seats will be set aside as seats for the president and executive vice president. Now that the resolution is part of the S.A.’s charter, the first election it will affect will be in the 2008-2009 school year. The upcoming elections will not change.
[img_assist|nid=27520|title=Facing changes|desc=Mark Coombs ’08, a Sun columnist, and Vincent Hartman ’08 address the Student Assembly about newly passed Resolution 12 regarding S.A. elections.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]“We think that those who are to speak for the people are best chosen by the people. Cornell should join the rest of the Ancient Eight,” said Director of Elections Mark Coombs ’08, representative-at-large and a co-sponsor of the resolution.
The main concern S.A. representatives had about the resolution was that if a candidate did not win the election for president or vice president they would not be a voting member of the S.A. at all. The S.A. could potentially lose a member who had years of experience just because the member lost the election.

“I would like to see some recourse for people who lose to play an active part,” said Vice President of Finance Adam Gay ’08, CALS representative.
Gay suggested an amendment to the resolution that any candidate running for any seat could indicate a desire to run for president or vice president as well, and the candidate with the highest number of votes would be seated.
Asa Craig ’11, freshman representative, also proposed a different version of the amendment which stated that candidates who ran for the position of representative at-large would also run for president. The two with the highest number of votes would be seated as president and executive vice president, and the six with the next highest number of votes would be the representatives at-large. Both amendments were withdrawn after discussion.
“While there is a risk involved, no-one would run if they did not believe they had a good chance. People need to take risks;this would serve as a self-electing process,” Coombs said.
Another concern that was raised by members of the S.A. was that the resolution did not set out any qualifications that a candidate would need to have in order to run for president or vice president. However, Vince Hartman ’08, Arts and Sciences representative and a co-sponsor of the resolution pointed out that the only requirements for a candidate to run for president of the United States were age and citizenship.
“We have to trust the students,” Hartman said.
The resolution passed without any amendments. The logistics of how the elections will run can be worked out later by the Elections Committee, which documents election rules before each election.
Elan Greenberg ’08 spoke in favor of the resolution so strongly that he was made a co-sponsor of it.
“[The resolution] establishes more legitimacy in position. We have to do this, it is long overdue,” Greenberg said.
Several students came to the meeting to offer their opinions on the resolution. According to Javaste Dulcio ’08, the current system implies that the Cornell election system is undemocratic and that the student body cannot be trusted to choose and elect the president. She said that she believes the resolution would bring increased student participation in the elections, and more issues that would be pertinent to the community would surface.
“My president should be elected by my vote.,” Dulcio said.
The presidential and vice-presidential elections will be held at the same time as the other S.A. elections next year to keep the election process clear and simple.