|A recent Student Association vote to create The Fix It With Five program appears to have been administered unconstitutionally. The vote, held March 10, was conducted using a signed-ballot method created by S.A. President Steve O’Neil.
S.A. senate members question the vote
The Constitution allows for a show of hands, a roll call vote or a secret ballot. During a vote on Fix It With Five, a program that would provide about $10,000 a year to a selected charity, O’Neil overrode the Constitution and implemented a new method in which students were ordered to stand in two lines to vote. The twist: They also were ordered to sign their names to their ballots.
|Open Forum on S.A. Issues
WHEN: April 7 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Cheray 101
AGENDA: Finances, the Constitution and communication between clubs, departments, senate members, E-Board and student body will be addressed.
Several S.A. members have expressed concern about the voting method and other problems, including lack of access to financial records and poor communication between the S.A. leadership and the student body.
O’Neil declined repeated requests for an interview, saying he was too busy with other obligations. However, he and Vice President Liam Danaher issued a statement:
"We (the executive board) decided to use a written ballot style of voting because we deemed it most effective for a vote of such magnitude. With an issue of such importance and more students voting than usual, it would have been difficult for us to conduct a simple voice vote."
The vote was 57-56.
O’Neil’s statement continued, "We (the executive board)believe we’re acting with the best interest of the student body in mind, as we have tried to do all year. As representatives of the student body, should students feel like it was an unconstitutional way of voting, it is our job to respond to student interest in a revote."
Before the voting began, sophomore Josh Hoxie approached O’Neil in an attempt to stop the vote.
"I said, ‘Steve, this vote doesn’t make any sense,’" Hoxie said. "This isn’t the way it’s ever been done. It’s not democratic. People could vote as many times as they wanted and then go into the other line and write someone else’s name, and Steve blew it off again."
Senior Class Secretary Chris Gosselin also objected to the voting method.
"What jumped out at me at the meeting was the voting method which was used was not in the Constitution," Gosselin said.
"It was a very close ballot and a very close call, with a ballot that we don’t even have as an option in the Constitution," he said.
A "spur-of-the-moment" decision by the E-board
The voting method was a spur-of-the-moment decision and chosen to ensure fairness, S.A. Vice President Liam Danaher said.
"I think it made most sense at the time, as far as people writing their names on the ballot to make sure there were no duplications and no people voting twice," Danaher said.
Marilyn Cormier, director of government and community relations, said she and the other advisers who were present didn’t see anything wrong with the voting method.
"I think the reason Steve did it that way was to make sure all the students who voted that way were members of the student assembly," Cormier said. "The advisers didn’t see anything wrong with it, but I think if any of the students are uncomfortable with it, then they have every right to ask for a revote."
Co-founders of the Fix It With Five program, junior Eric Larkin and sophomore Katherine Hackett, didn’t think the S.A. was trying to be unfair or unjust.
Because Fix It With Five appears to have passed unconstitutionally, a revote might be necessary.
"We wouldn’t try and stop that if people were upset about the voting," Hackett said.