SGA committee mulls campaign responsibility

When the Student Government Association’s Steering Committee met this week, the discussion revolved around the SGA’s election guidelines and funding policies.

As head of the elections committee, Ali Faruk modified the election guidelines, telling the group that a written grievance first must be brought before the elections committee. Then, he explained that one of three decisions must be made: dismiss the charge, reprimand the responsible party, or in the worse case scenario, disqualify a candidate.

Another issue the committee discussed concerned the amount of money the executive branch can move from one approved line item to another. Since the executive budget has more funds than the various Senate components, SGA President Zmarak Khan argued that the executive branch should be allowed to move more money among the approved items.

For instance, Khan requested that the executive branch change a $2,000 line item. Since this amounts to four times more than the SGA can change, Khan and Arman Amiri, director of financial affairs, compromised at $1,000.

“We do things that usually come up (the) last minute, and a lot of times we don’t have the time and luxury to actually go to the appropriations committee and ask for a line item change,” Khan said.

Concerning the election guidelines, Vice President Edward O’Leary questioned the portion that states candidates ultimately are responsible for their campaign’s actions. After an incident that affected O’Leary and Khan upon their election, O’Leary asked if anyone who supports the candidate would still be defined as part of the campaign as in previous years.

“I remember last year … We were convicted and had our votes taken away before we had a say,” O’Leary said, referring to charges that were dropped upon appeal.

Essentially, he wanted to know whether a supporter could still incriminate a candidate even though the candidate might be unaware of the supporter or the supporter’s actions. Parliamentarian Ali Khan proposed a potential solution, suggesting that more definite lists could outline who was a part of the campaign. That way, anyone’s actions not listed would not affect the candidate.

President Khan, however, said such a system would allow candidates to dodge blame in various ways.

“Everybody would basically say ‘Only the person who’s running is on my campaign and nobody else is,’ ” he said.

If lists of those officially participating in a campaign continue to be made, other members of the committee said such lists should be reliable so accountability can be determined.

“I don’t think if someone is campaigning illegally for you that you should be held responsible,” Faruk said.

Still, other committee members appeared to oppose stricter rules that would alter the current method of dealing with election grievances.

“I think this has been purposely left vague … Is ‘Person A’ part of the team or is ‘Person A’ some rogue?” Timothy Reed, the SGA’s budget adviser, asked rhetorically. “Unless you have a list of 24,000 people or like you guys said a list of one, that’s really going to be with an elections committee who really does their job.”

Additionally, the committee addressed a change from the current GPA requirements for students trying to become SGA senators, though no vote took place. The guidelines now require an undergraduate to have a minimum 2.0 GPA and a graduate student to have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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