SGA slate voting proposal vetoed

Student Government Association President Katie Herschede vetoed on Monday a new piece of legislation that would give students an option to run for the executive board on a slate, rather than an individual ticket. In a slate ticket, students vote for one group of people to fill all five positions in the executive board: president, executive vice president, vice president for public relations, vice president for student and academic affairs and vice president for administrative affairs. Students under the bill, would be given the option of running as an individual or as a group. Prior to the veto, the measure had been approved by the senate by a 15-11 margin at the previous meeting.

Supporters say a slate ticket brings diversity to SGA by giving non-Greek students a better chance at winning a spot on the executive board. The slate ticket would break the monopoly Greek members have on the board, said Dave Caddell, vice president for administrative affairs and member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Instead of pitting a person against a Greek student, a ticket would allow Greeks to run alongside other students, Caddell said.

Greeks currently hold office in all five positions and Caddell said it has been that way for a while.

“Too many Greeks have run SGA for too long,” Caddell said. “Don’t get me wrong, Greek representation is important because they do a lot, but can anyone tell me that 5 Greeks represent the whole campus?”

Herschede defended her decision by saying that introducing a change in election proceedings so close to the deadline for students to submit their candidacy is unconstitutional and unfair. With elections coming up on April 17 and 18, Herschede said it is unfair to change the rules for those who are running.

“I made a deliberate decision to make sure it was fair and constitutional,” Herschede said.

Much of the opposition to the bill agreed the timing was inappropriate.

“In the long run it might be good; it is just not the right time,” said senator Abby Bentley. “It is just that the packets are out and it discourages people who are running.”

Herschede said only the Judicial Council or an amendment to the SGA constitution can change the election procedures. An amendment would require the approval of the Board of Regents

Caddell disagreed, saying the decision only served to alleviate a potential burden for those running for executive board this month. Caddell said if the slate voting proposal was approved, those running for office would have to adjust to compete against slates. For the next elections, four out of the five positions on the executive board are running uncontested. If a slate were introduced, Caddell said there would be an increase in competition.

Herschede said she expected people to disagree with her decision, but affirmed the reasons for her decision were genuine.

“I am placed in a unique situation of being president and running for re-election,” Herschede said. “It is my job to uphold the constitution. I spent a lot of sleepless nights on this decision of constitutionality and fairness.”

Herschede emphasized that she wasn’t against the idea of slate voting, but question the fairness of introducing such a policy late in the game.

Some, however, feel the current system of voting is unfair. Without slate voting, non-greeks are too intimidated to run, Caddell said. Only two of the nine people running in for the executive board in the upcoming elections are not members of Greek organizations, he said.

One of those non-Greek candidates is senator Burhan Mohamedali. Mohamedali said he opted not to run for last year because he felt his chances of winning were slim.

“I probably wouldn’t get enough votes,” Mohamedali said. “I could run up against a Greek and lose. I would have to campaign a lot harder to win. If I am in a fraternity, I can get my votes from those in fraternities. ”

Even though Mohamedali won’t be able to run on a slate, he said he will persist in his bid for a position on the executive board

“I’ll try and prove my point if I run up against a Greek and then lose,” Mohamedali said.

Slate voting would also require a candidate to acquire 300 signatures, 60 per person, instead of the 75 an individual will have to acquire to run for office. None of the signatures can be duplicates. Senator Debbie Davis said this also gives an advantage to non-greek students.

“That forces you to go out beyond your friends,” Davis said. “It makes someone go out and get international students.”

The future of slate voting remains uncertain. Herschede agreed slate voting has merits and could possibly be enacted for the elections in Spring 2003. SGA will decide in next Monday’s meeting whether to put the issue of slate voting on the April ballot for students to decide.