The changes made last fall to the Student Government (SG) College Council (CC) bylaws were enacted just last week, after the bylaws were apparently misfiled for almost an entire calendar year.
As a result of the filing error, an otherwise ineligible CC member will take a seat, and another representative with a spotty attendance record will keep his position.
The bylaws were changed regarding absence and vacancy policies for class representatives last October and December, respectively. However, the implementation of the amendment has been inconsistent due to a filing error.
According to Max Freedman, SG Parliamentarian and Chairman of the Election and Rules (E&R) Committee, E&R was never notified of the amended CC bylaws and an updated copy of the bylaws were not available for public inspection on the SG website—a rule mandated by Article VII §3 of the CC Constitution. In order for the bylaws to be validly passed and implemented, they need to be made available for public inspection, Freedman said.
Mark Sands, graduate of the Class of 2016 and former CC chair, disagreed with Freedman’s reading of the Constitution. “If a bylaws amendment passes…not updating the website would not be a reason to ignore a past vote,” Sands said. “The secretary and the CC chair would be directly responsible for any amendments being put into the bylaws and a revised version being uploaded to the website.”
At the time of the passage of the amendments, current SG President Eric Holmberg was CC Chair.
“I agree that it was my responsibility to ensure that the bylaws were updated on the website,” Holmberg said. “The organizational mishap was that the secretary at the time failed to properly compile the amendments and post them.”
The first part of the amendment created a point-based attendance policy, where a student could be removed from their position if they accumulated three “points” through absences and sending proxies in their stead. One absence is one point; sending a proxy is a half a point.
Current second-year CC Representative Qudsiyyah Shariyf helped write the amendment. “When we wanted to reference the policies this fall, we were unable to enforce them upon the new council, seeing as they had no ability to know about the policy when they ran or after they were elected,” she told The Maroon. “Therefore, for people who had racked up absences…we were forced to follow the policies that had been in place before last fall.”
Jake Mansoor, current CC representative for the Class of 2017, had accrued two of the three allotted points, running the risk of losing his seat. However, because the bylaws were not filed correctly, he was granted a clean attendance record moving forward.
The second part of the amendment regarding vacancies enabled the chair to offer a vacant seat to an unelected candidate receiving the next higher number of votes as of the last election in the relevant electoral unit. However, such a candidate needed to have received at least as many votes as a declared candidate.
Mark Sands called the previous procedures “unwieldy and undemocratic.” In 2013, he gained his own seat on CC when he expressed interest in the seat by responding to a class-wide e-mail followed by an election within CC, which Sands confessed was not “particularly democratic.”
Last week, fourth-year Joshua Engelman was seated on CC after receiving four write-in votes in the spring elections. He did not receive at least as many votes as any of the declared candidates, and was not a declared candidate himself. He was granted his seat due to the misfiling.
The minutes from the CC meeting in which the amendments were passed remain unavailable to the public on the SG website. The amended bylaws, however, are now updated and available for public inspection.
“I think individual [CC] members were aware it passed last year, but that the general sense was that once something like this passes, it just magically happens,” Freedman said. “It doesn’t.”