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The Daily Tar Heel

New Student Code up for debate at student government

Elizabeth Adkins is a junior political science and journalism major and is running to be Student Body President.
Elizabeth Adkins is a junior political science and journalism major and is running to be Student Body President.

Tarik Woods, chairperson of the Rules and Judiciary Committee, penned the new Student Code along with members of the present and former undergraduate student governments, as well as assistance from the Graduate and Professional Student Federation.

Woods presented the altered code to the Rules and Judiciary Committee, sparking diverse feedback from the committee members and at times inciting arguments.

The majority of the changes to the document are logistical — accommodations made to recognize the split of the student body government into undergraduate and graduate bodies.

Other changes were enacted in response to the unprecedented behavior of the student body president campaigns in the most recent election.

Social media outlets GroupMe and Facebook Messenger, previously used by candidates to increase their online presence, are now prohibited methods of reaching out to voters en masse before candidates are certified. Unsolicited emails, however, are still an acceptable form of campaigning, except in certain situations where the UNC Board of Elections disallows it.

One of the most contentious amendments to the Student Code was the setting of a limitation on the number of registered workers a presidential candidate can claim. The number is set at 30 workers for collecting ballot signatures.

Katharine Shriver, recently sworn in as Speaker of Undergraduate Senate, argued against the measure.

“Presumably, people are going to try to get around this and have more than 30 people, so how will that work?” she said.

Woods said candidates should not be liable for the actions of supporters that they have not officially claimed.

“If a candidate can’t keep track of their workers, they probably shouldn’t be running for student body president,” Adkins said.

The issue was debated further and eventually shelved for another day.

In the next election, the manner in which candidates are disciplined will change. Reports of bias among the BOE have led the drafters of the new Student Code to make it more difficult for candidates to be disqualified for minor violations, but charges related to financial problems, harmful and malicious behavior and falsification of information will have serious consequences.

One new feature of the discipline system is the application of a 10 percent decrease in the maximum spending limit for a campaign for each additional violation.

“I think the spending limit is ridiculous,” Shriver said.

Due to arguments over aspects of the revised code, it has yet to be finalized.

Now that Adkins pushed her cabinet through the Rules and Judiciary Committee, the group must be confirmed by the entire senate before assuming office.

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