The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday April 1st

Abuse of power: Endorsement from senior officers was inappropriate

Senior Class Officers Meggie Staffiera and Sebastian Williams’ use of the senior class listserv to endorse Hogan Medlin for student body president flies in the face of past decisions by elected leaders not to involve themselves in elections.

The Student Code expressly forbids using student government e-mail lists to endorse a candidate.

But the endorsement is technically on behalf of the Senior Class Marshal Executive Board, which is under the General Alumni Association and not student government.

While technically not a violation of the Code, this action certainly goes against the sentiment that elected campus leaders should not weigh in on the election to replace them.

In a statement to The Daily Tar Heel, executive branch officials stressed that “an endorsement from the senior class is without precedent.”

They also stressed their own inability to endorse as embodied in the Code.

“We felt that we had made our case and that their decision and its consequences rested with them,” said the statement from student government.

Clearly, Williams and Staffiera didn’t take the hint.

The presidents decided to endorse after recent low voter turnout among seniors.

“We looked at the voting results from last year of seniors, and it was pretty abysmal,” Williams said.

While the intentions might be innocent, they do not negate the fact that senior class representatives exploited a loophole in the Code to exert disproportionate influence on a significant voting block. They could have merely sent out a listserv e-mail urging students to vote, without offering a specific endorsement.

Williams and Staffiera said they participated in the endorsement interview, but ultimately left the voting to the Senior Class Marshal Executive Board.

But even though they didn’t vote on the endorsement, their decision to personally e-mail that endorsement implicitly carries their blessing.

The prohibition on using listservs for candidate endorsements should extend to the senior class presidents.

Current officeholders should not have the power to exert such influence over who will replace them or other campus leaders.

The Student Code should be modified to reflect this.

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