The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 21st

Congress Revises Code, Debates Role of Treasurer

In its last session before the end of the fall semester, Student Congress gathered to approve revisions to the Code of Student Government that govern student elections.

The revisions that received Congress' stamp of approval lay out new guidelines for Internet voting and clarify several parts of the code.

The existing rules concerning the election of student government officials primarily focus on how to hold elections in traditional polling sites rather than the online system that will be utilized this year.

"The old rules were ambiguous and problematic," said Frederick Hill, vice chairman of the Elections Board. "(The former code) didn't account for the online voting system that was implemented this year."

Election officials said another reason for changing the election guidelines was to decrease the number of complaints associated with candidates' campaigns.

"There are ambiguities with the current code, and campaigns from this year have expressed worries," Hill said. "This new legislation will make the new code clear where these problems will be worked out and aid in the transition from polling sites to Internet access."

Supporters said it is imperative that a change be made so that the rules reflect elections to be held via the Internet.

"I know that the (Rules and Judiciary) committee have worked hard to ensure that we are moving in the right direction with online voting," said Student Body President Brad Matthews.

And members of the Election Board were quick to point out that the time had arrived when the elections rules needed to be revised.

"(The proposed revision) is a partial rewrite, but a total reorganization," Hill said.

The remainder of the Congress meeting was filled with talk of legislation and financial matters.

Speaker Pro Tem Sandi Chapman announced that several graduate students have expressed interest in filling vacant congressional seats. Traditionally, graduate seats have been difficult positions to fill in Congress.

Finance Committee Chairman Mark Townsend said Congress would end this semester with a $5,000 surplus, which will be added to the allotted sum of $8,800 to be distributed to student organizations next year. No new allocations were requested at this meeting.

One of the more hotly debated bills of the evening concerned the role of student body treasurer in policing equipment that is purchased with funds given out by Student Congress.

The bill, which failed, proposed that the student body treasurer stop his current duties of checking up on every piece of equipment purchased with congressional funds.

Student Body Treasurer Patrick Frye said that due to other more pressing responsibilities, he does not have time or resources to manually locate every piece of equipment that is bought with congressional funds. "I can't be everything to everybody," Frye said. "There are limits to the amount of stuff that me and my two assistants can do."

Many opponents to the bill voiced their concerns about the amount of power and control that should be given to groups who use student money.

Alexandra Bell, speaker of Congress, said, "It's not that I don't trust the groups, but I don't think they need that much responsibility just because the student body treasurer can't find help."

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