Approving referendum, UCS eliminates class reps

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Undergraduate Council of Students approved the results of a referendum to abolish class representatives at its general body meeting Wednesday night, following a debate about whether the referendum process violated the council’s code of operations.

The referendum, which passed with the approval of 85 percent of students voting, did not appear on the ballot “in its exact written form” as the UCS code requires, said Student Activities Chair Drew Madden ’10.

Instead, the referendum was listed on the ballot with a shorter text that summarized its purpose. Campus Life Chair Ellie Cutler ’10 said the summary contained “biased wording” that encouraged students to vote for the referendum.

But council members overwhelmingly supported approving the results. An initial motion passed with 14 yes votes and four no votes but was not recognized by President Michael Glassman ’09 because he believed recognizing the results violated the UCS code. A second motion overruled Glassman’s objections.

The council also passed changes to the UCS code to prepare the council to operate under the referendum, setting the number of signatures required to become an at-large representative at 150.

UCS was joined at the beginning of its four-hour meeting by Chancellor Emeritus Artemis Joukowsky ’55 P’87, Corporation member Joan Sorensen ’72 P’06 P’06, Secretary of the University Al Dahlberg and Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, interim vice president for campus life and student services, who answered questions from UCS members about financial aid and advising.

Joukowsky said increased financial aid for international students was “certainly a priority.”

Asked about a possible endowment to fund student activities, Sorensen said it was “hard to add anything more to the current (fundraising) campaign.”

UCS also passed code changes regarding its relationship with Ivy Council, redefining the positions of head delegate and policy chair. These positions will now automatically serve on both Ivy Council and UCS, the code now states.

“One of our primary missions is to foster communication between student governments,” said Harris Li ’11, class representative and current head delegate, who sponsored the code change. “Student governments are the ones that can enact major changes.”

Students for a Democratic Society was given Category I status after a debate regarding the group’s treatment of Faunce 301, a room to which the group does not officially have access. Until now, SDS was not an officially sanctioned student group. In a letter from Communications Chair Gabe Kussin ’09 read aloud at the meeting, Kussin said SDS’ name is spray-painted into the room’s carpet.

“I don’t feel morally okay with approving this group,” said Li, the major opponent of approving the group who was present.

A motion to give the group Category I status eventually passed with 15 yes votes, one no vote from Li and four abstentions. Brown Poler Bears received Category I status. The Uganda Action Movement, the African Sun and GAIA at Brown were upgraded from Category I to Category II. Friends of Turkey, which UCS de-categorized last week because it believed the group had been inactive, was reinstated as a Category II group.

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