In final meeting of current leadership, USG changes election rules
The USG approved a package of new election regulations including a ban against defamation, a new reimbursement system, a removal of the ban on the type of campaign materials candidates can use and the removal of all regulation on posters at its Senate meeting Sunday night.
Following this winter's elections, USG president Bruce Easop ’13 created a working group and an ad hoc committee to review and propose amendments to the USG Elections Handbooks in order to better facilitate the semiannual elections.
The ad hoc committee was chaired by the elections manager Julian Dean ’13, who was joined by USG social chair Benedict Wagstaff ’14, U-Councilor Elan Kugelmass ’14, Class of 2015 treasurer Cordelia Orillac and Matthew Saunders ’15 and Jeffrey Yan ’16, who are not affiliated with USG. The working group consisted of USG vice president Stephen Stolzenberg ’13, Undergraduate Life Committee chair Adi Rajagopalan ’13, Class of 2013 senator Andrew Blumenfeld and U-Councilor Zhan Okuda-Lim ’15.
Dean, who is a former operations manager for The Daily Princetonian, presented a new elections document on behalf of the ad hoc committee that was unanimously agreed upon by both groups.
The Senate also debated three additional amendments proposed by the committee but not approved by the working group. First, the committee argued that candidates should be limited to a campaign timeline, proposing that “Candiates ... [be] prohibited from campaigning before noon on the Monday of registration week.” Doing so, Dean argued, would help preserve the productivity of the USG, which gets “almost nothing done” during campaign week, he said.
The ad hoc committee also proposed a ban against defamation, defined as “the act of disparaging the reputation of another by making a false statement or communication — written, oral or otherwise — to a third person,” as well as better regulation of election-related emails and the inclusion of a “link to a form that allows people to report alleged campaign violations.” Such new regulations, Dean said, would help preserve a positive image of the USG and encourage the best candidates to run for positions on the Senate.
During this past winter's elections, Wagstaff — then running for USG president — circulated a table which some said constituted negative campaigning against competing candidate Shawon Jackson ’15, who eventually won.
Blumenfeld spoke up against these new regulations because he said they would actually harm the image of the USG.
“We run into trouble time and time again because we set up irregulatable restrictions ... instead of allowing the voters to evaluate their tactics,” he said.
Blumenfeld argued many situations are subjective and are hard to judge.
The Senate passed the new Elections Regulations with all three amendments, with 12 members voting in favor, six voting against and four abstaining.
The Senate also evaluated the Dean's Date silent disco, which featured a performance by Basshunter. Blumenfeld warned against approving large sums of money for unconfirmed artists for future celebrations, because unlike with Lawnparties, “the virtues of secrecy around that is not worth the risk,” he said.
Easop has declined to release the specific cost of the silent disco.
IT chair Josh Chen ’14 showcased upcoming new developments, including a new streamlined Tigerapps website as well as new apps that will be released in February, including an up-to-date room draw guide.
The meeting, the last of Easop's tenure, concluded with a year-in-review presentation, a farewell to the seniors in the Senate and the passing of the gavel to incoming USG vice president Carmina Mancenon ’14, who will formally preside over the USG beginning next semester.