The ASUW Board of directors (BOD) approved a change to the 2013 Elections Policies and Procedures (EPP) on Thursday, regarding whether or not board members with ties to the elections can vote on violation issues.
The change in the EPP states: “When considering election violations presented by the Judicial Committee, Board of Directors members that were candidates or campaign managers in the election must abstain.”
The 2013 EPP as a whole was passed last week, but board members discussed the wording of an item that they said had been overlooked. The entire document was written by the ASUW Judicial Committee. In previous years, the EPP has strongly recommended that these elections-affiliated board members abstain, as opposed to mandating abstention with the word “must.”
The item became controversial because the changing of the wording would mean the EPP would take away elected board members’ votes.
After discussion, the board voted to keep the additional change, though members of the board were split.
Members disagreed about whether or not the board members were comfortable allowing the EPP as a document to have such powers.
“I think that the question here is whether or not the EPP has the ability to dictate whether or not board members’ votes are taken away,” said Michael Kutz, ASUW director of university affairs. “It seems to be at an effective language already, and we should not take the EPP to a different and, in my opinion, inappropriate level.”
ASUW President Evan Smith explained that for the past three years, when issues regarding EPP violations were brought to the board, members chose not to vote and abstained.
“[Regarding] the intent of changing [the wording], obviously it is hard to disagree with that,” he said. “[But, what we have] has worked in the past and I think it will continue to work.”
“We were elected to vote on all issues, and this falls under that,” said Desiree Hanssen, ASUW vice president. “I hope that future board members will be able to keep themselves accountable and hold themselves to high moral standards.”
Other board members acknowledged that, in the competitive nature of the elections, allowing the board members to keep their vote would put them in a position from which they could take unethical measures.
Jennifer Gibbons, ASUW director of diversity efforts, described the process as “inherently problematic.”
“I would like to think that everyone is a good standing member, but when you’re in the heat of elections, things get different,” Gibbons said. “It doesn’t matter how much you like the person you’re running against; when it comes to elections it is about someone standing between you and you/your ticket’s dream.”
After discussions, the BOD decided to vote to keep the wording as “must,” as was passed last week.
“[This change] will hold the entire association to a higher moral standard,” Gibbons said.
Reach reporter Diane Han at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @di_aneee
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