Adrian Boteanu / Sun File Photo

Members of the Student Assembly meet weekly in the Memorial Room, in Willard Straight Hall. Thursday's meeting covered potential issues during concurrent elections between the Student Assembly and student-elected trustees.

February 22, 2019

Student Assembly Weighs Changing Election Policy as Presidential Race Approaches

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The Student Assembly discussed revising procedures that currently allow members of the S.A. and the undergraduate student-elected trustee to be elected simultaneously at its meeting on Thursday.

The proposed amendment — which assumes the student-elected trustee and S.A. elections are held concurrently — would prevent student-elected trustee candidates and their supporters from being involved in campaigns with the S.A.

Candidates for president of the S.A., and their supporters, would not be able to be involved with campaigns for student-elected trustees.

Shashank Vura ’19, director of elections, sponsored the proposal and outlined a potential situation where the proposal might come into effect.

“A scenario might be if a candidate for student-trustee was very popular and decides to, hypothetically, endorse these ten candidates for Student Assembly and campaign alongside them,” Vura said. “Some might make the case that could unfairly impact the results of the Student Assembly election.”

However, Vura and other members of the S.A. pointed out that the assembly and trustee elections are separate, so the S.A. does not have any jurisdiction over the trustee races.

Dale Barbaria ’19, vice president of finance, stated that he initially disagreed with the amendment as “these are two different elections, two different offices, two different bodies. I don’t think the elections of Student Assembly does not have any enforcement power over the student elective trustees races.”

The assembly also discussed whether or not candidates should be able to run for both student-elected trustee and S.A. concurrently. If the elections were held at the same time, runner-ups would not be able to campaign for the other race.

Barbaria provided an analogy, comparing the amendment to what happened with Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s, who changed Texas law to allow him run for both re-election to the Senate and pursue the presidential nomination.

Varun Devatha ’19, S.A. president, stated that he did not want the elections for the S.A. and the student-elected trustee to occur concurrently.

“What this is doing is leeching the talent pool from the student assembly,” Devatha said. “The [Trustee Nominating Committee] is putting us in this position where we either lose all of this talent, that is the type of people that would be running for higher positions in student assembly, or we have to have some concessions.”

The amendment was tabled 14-4-2, and the S.A. will notify candidates if the election rules change.