By Tanaz Ahmed, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 20, 2014
The democratic process was in full swing this week at the University.
From 12:00 a.m. on Nov. 19 until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 20, students across campus voted in fall elections for Central Student Government representatives, as well as on a variety of individual issues.
Engineering students could vote to completely replace the University of Michigan Engineering Council constitution. The entire campus also had the opportunity to elect a student representative to serve on the Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee.
Additionally, students from LSA, the Ross School of Business, School of Information, School of Public Health, the Law School and Rackham Graduate School were able to elect representatives to Central Student Government.
Results for all elections are expected to come out at midnight Friday.
Engineering students to vote on changes to constitution and bylaws
The Central Student Judiciary found the Engineering Council’s December elections invalid due to violations of its own constitution and bylaws in March. In response, UMEC General Council passed a resolution in April to create a constitutional convention to write a new constitution and set of bylaws.
After the new constitution was created, the convention unanimously approved it and voted to place the new constitution on the Special Elections ballot in November. Copies of the proposed constitution were sent to all registered UMEC organizations before polls opened.
“It’s (the constitution and bylaws) been around for a couple of decades and still has the same structure, but at the same time, the College of Engineering itself has changed dramatically both in size and in structure,” said UMEC President Max Olender, an Engineering senior. “We decided it’d be best to start from scratch, evaluate the needs of the College and our students to come up with a completely new structure for the student government.”
The new constitution differs from the old constitution in aspects relating to legislative body and executive positions. Engineering senior Kelsey Hockstad and Engineering graduate student Kyle Lady, who sued UMEC, claimed that UMEC elections violated their equal protection and democratic representation rights.
Under the current constitution, the legislative body is composed of delegates from Engineering student organizations. To maintain eligibility for funding, these delegates were required to attend the General Council meetings.
“You have a situation where individuals are almost forced to participate in this governing body and they may not want to be there, they may not be interested. It’s a rather ineffective method,” Olender said. “It also can make it fairly difficult for students who aren’t in or heavily involved in student organizations to have equal representation.”
The new constitution calls for student-elected representatives for the legislative body and does not require representatives to be appointed by members of Engineering student organizations, unlike the design of the contested constitution. It has also reduced the number of members on the executive board.
DPS Oversight Committee student representative to be chosen
LSA junior Michael Fakhoury and Law School student Alan Nagel are running to become the DPS Oversight Committee's student representatives.
The purpose of the committee is to respond to complaints and grievances against the department or campus police officers. The group can make recommendations to the executive director of DPSS on how to address grievances. Recommendations may include disciplinary action.
The committee comprises of six members: two student representatives, two faculty members and two staff members. All members are elected by their peers. Student representatives are elected for one-year terms, while other members are elected for two-year terms. Last year’s representatives were Fakhoury and LSA senior Alexis Wyckoff.
“When Michigan’s legislature made students one-third of the DPS Oversight Committee, they effectively made us one-third of the conscience for the primary law enforcement body on campus,” Nagel wrote in an e-mail to The Michigan Daily. “That's a significant role for us and represents a significant amount of trust in our capabilities.”