The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 6th

In aftermath of elections, Student Code may be altered

Bill could prevent Code controversy

A bill that will arise in the rules and judiciary committee of Student Congress today could make this year’s student election the last to be riddled by conflicting interpretations of election rules.

The proposal would specifically require that select student government members resign from their high-level offices before campaigning for another position.

The legislation, the first to come in response to this year’s contentious election season, clarifies the existing section of Title VI of the Student Code, which was at the center of the complaints regarding second-place finisher Ian Lee, who was criticized for campaigning while serving as student body secretary.

A complaint by Deanna Santoro, former speaker of Congress claimed the Board of Elections ignored the Code in allowing Lee to run without resigning. The dispute delayed the release of election results for nine days.

“If we go through and clarify it, hopefully we can prevent future things like this from happening,” said Evan Ross, chairman of the rules and judiciary committee and sponsor of the bill.

Lee said he was frustrated with Congress.

“They need to do a better job of writing the Code the first time because that’s what they’re elected to do and that’s what students expect.”

A clause in the bill would exempt Congress leadership from the rule if members are running for positions within Congress.

Ross said running for an elected office is time-consuming and takes time away from the candidate’s current role as an officer.

“You’re having to spend time and energy running for that office, therefore you’re not having enough time to do the job you have,” Ross said.

Lee said he didn’t experience any time constraints holding an office and running for another office at the same time.

“It was only a very, very small group of students that even made an issue of that difference,” he said.

Alex Mills, speaker of Congress, said the main purpose of the bill is “to correct that vague language of when and if the person would have to resign.”

The bill will be recommended favorably, unfavorably or without prejudice to the full body or will be tabled after the meeting. Mills said bills are usually recommended favorably to Congress after amendments are made.

If it is passed through the committee, the bill will move to the March 15 full Congress meeting.

Ross said he thinks that if the bill passes, students who already hold offices might reconsider running for other positions.

“It’ll make people decide whether or not running for another office is worth doing so if they have to give up the office they hold then,” he said.

Ross said Congress has worked throughout the year to eliminate ambiguities in the Code.

“That’s one of the reasons why members of Congress … have been going over the Student Code last semester and this semester trying to iron out things we see as potential problems,” he said.

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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