The LSA Student Government has included a question on their
ballot that some representatives feel may compromise the democratic
process within LSA-SG. If approved, the initiative would alter the
LSA-SG constitution by changing the way its president and vice
president are elected.

Currently, the president and vice president are on a single
ticket and are elected by the student body of the College of
Literature, Science and the Arts at the same time that Michigan
Student Assembly representatives are elected. A question on the
ballot for this month’s elections, held Wednesday and
Thursday, would change this process so that only voting members of
LSA-SG would elect the president and vice president.

According to the LSA-SG Resolution in Support of Executive
Office Election Reform, which was passed by a 15 to 3 vote in
LSA-SG, executives have been elected who have no past experience on
LSA-SG, which has resulted in unsatisfactory leadership.

The reform, said LSA-SG Appointments Vice Chair Jesse Knight, is
intended to prevent inexperienced students from derailing important
student government functions.

“This change would be useful in keeping consistency of
government and maintaining a cohesive government,” said
Knight, a senior. “It would be keeping people from running
government who’ve never been on government.”

But some members of LSA-SG say the amendment would hurt the
democratic process.

“The resolution allows the president to be elected without
direct student votes or student opinions,” said LSA-SG Rep.
Stuart Wagner, a freshman. “(The president and vice
president) don’t have to talk to a single student outside.
The only people they even have to talk to are the representatives.
… They lose contact with the student body.”

Another major concern of Wagner and other opponents is the
president’s power to appoint an executive board, which they
say could lead to vote trading during a presidential election

“It will create a friends-help-friends spoils
system,” said Wagner.

Also because the president and the president’s executive
appointees have voting power, some representatives are worried that
too much power would be given to people who are not directly
elected by the student community.

“Twenty five percent of the votes in LSA-SG would be
controlled by the two indirectly elected people — the
president and the vice president and the five appointed positions
of the executive board — with only 50 percent needed to pass
most resolutions,” Wagner said. “It’s moving
toward autocracy.”

While the student body would no longer directly vote for the
president and vice president, supporters of the reform do not see
this as an erosion of the democratic process.

“For any constitutional change we have to receive the
majority of students’ support,” said LSA-SG
Appointments Vice Chair Ryan Ford, a junior who is also running for
LSA-SG vice president as a member of Students First.

Students would also be permitted to attend the election in order
to learn about the candidates’ platforms and to voice any
concerns.

“When the election takes place we (would) invite the
entire LSA student body to come and express their pros and cons of
the candidates,” Ford said. “If a student has a
particular problem with a candidate, representatives will take that
into account.”

The majority of LSA-SG representatives, including current
president and junior David Matz and presidential candidate Lauren
May, a sophomore, support the proposed amendment. The LSA
dean’s office also supports the changes.

The question can be previewed online and students can vote in
both the Michigan Student Assembly and LSA-SG elections this
Wednesday and Thursday at
“http://vote.www.umich.edu”>vote.www.umich.edu.

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