Graphic by Miho Watabe, graphic arts editor
By The Drew Acorn Editorial Board
We were happy to see a large turnout and student interest in the recent Student Government presidential election. This year’s SG general election was one of the most contested we’ve seen in several years. As Frank Merckx, Dean of Campus Life and Student Affairs, said, election complaints are not uncommon in such highly contended elections. As an organization that must observe students and campus happenings, we at The Drew Acorn are ecstatic that passion for democracy is being revived.
However, with that being said, we are concerned about the controversy which began immediately after the election and has only just been resolved. The conflict surrounds numerous complaints made by different candidates on several violations of the SG election statutes, including a violation of vote by proxy. We understand that in any given election passions may flare. We do not mean to target anyone specifically, and we have been glad to see incredible passion in this election, but the issue of proxy voting in this SG election is by far the most persistent issue that came out of this controversy.
Article V.E.4. of the SG election statutes states that any candidate or person who supports a candidate cannot “loiter and/or persistently attempt to influence voters at a polling station.” Physical polling stations were located at the Commons and Brothers College. However, Moodle, an online website, is also a polling station, albeit a non-physical one. The recent SG controversy begs the question, what happens when a SG candidate or supporter of a candidate influences voters, knowingly or unknowingly, through the use of technological gadgets like a tablet. To carry a tablet and physically solicit votes from students,, by opening the Moodle web page on the tablet ,could very well influence the voting decisions of students. Yet, the election statutes make no mention of the conduct of candidates and their supporters concerning the Moodle election web page and its designation as a “polling location.”
As college students whose worlds are often consumed by the use of technology, we should know more than most the increasing significance of technology. This election showed us all that technology is a significant part of the SG election process and is increasingly so. But without a clear statute that recognizes the importance of technology in the voting process and addresses certain issues that may arise because of it, SG candidates and their supporters can technically operate in a gray area that may keep them being held accountable for any potential conduct violations concerning online voting. It is imperative that SG address this and set a precedent for future SG elections if it is to maintain its legitimacy and respect among the student body.
Student Government members negotiated with Drew’s Vice President of Finance and Business Affairs Howard Buxbaum to change the policies regarding replacing student ID cards and how much money a group can spend on food for an event.
Under the new policy, students will still have to pay the $25 fee for lost ID cards. However, worn-out or defective ID cards will be replaced free of cost at the Business Office. “We are now replacing damaged cards at no cost. We had a meeting several weeks ago with Student Government and they made a strong case that worn out [and] damaged cards should be a university responsibility,” Buxbaum said.
“For as long as I can remember, members of the Drew community were upset with the $25 replacement fee. Student Government heard numerous complaints about this issue in recent weeks and resolved to remedy it in any way possible,” Student Government President Frank Barbosa (’12) said.
Barbosa met with Buxbaum, along with his co-workers, Bursar Kelley Parsons and Student Account Representative Steph Mazzarella, before spring break to present his case.
“At the beginning of the meeting, I mentioned that students were quite upset with the steep replacement fee, and we needed to figure out a way to lower the fee amount. I explained that some of the ID cards break or wear out very easily. After much discussion, it was decided that students should not have to pay if their ID cards are broken or worn-out. The reasoning behind this is that sometimes the cards break or wear out somewhat easily. Often, the breaking or wearing out of a card is not the fault of the student. Therefore, we settled on removing the replacement fee for broken or worn-out cards,” Barbosa said.
This policy takes effect immediately. Drewids can replace broken or worn-out cards free of charge, as long as they bring the defective card to the Business Office when they go to get a replacement.
“The negotiations were much smoother than expected. At the time I was pretty sure that no one would support removing the fee. At most I expected them to lower the fee rather than remove it completely. However, they were very receptive to the idea. They did recognize that sometimes students can’t control whether a card breaks or wears out, and for that reason students shouldn’t be punished with a steep replacement fee,” Barbosa said.
Most members of SG feel satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations.
“We have scored a great victory for the students. We’ve heard plenty of stories where students dreaded going to the Business Office to pay for a broken card because of the steep replacement fee. Now students can get their broken/worn-out cards replaced for free, and Student Government is very happy about that,” Barbosa said.
This was not the only victory SG members scored for the students.
Freshman senators Addison Del Mastro (’15) and Mark Patronella (’15) negotiated with Buxbaum about the limited food budget clubs can spend on food at events.
Student clubs were only allowed to spend up to $100 on food for events, but Del Mastro and Patronella bargained for a higher budget.
“Originally, our goal was to more broadly understand our business contract with Aramark better. We asked Howard [Buxbaum] about the $100 cap on food and where it was in the contract, and he told us it wasn’t in the contract. It was basically just an informal settlement Drew and Aramark agreed on. Aramark does technically have exclusive catering rights on campus through an ‘exclusivity clause’ in the contract, but that limit is allowed. When we learned that it was not in the contract, we asked if it could be raised. He said he would bring it up to Aramark later in a meeting, and the next day he e-mailed us saying that they had agreed to give us up to $150,” Del Mastro said.
Del Mastro and Patronella said that the administration seemed very willing to work with them on this issue. “It was very interesting doing this because I would say we felt like Mr. Buxbaum was really listening to us, about our questions and what some student concerns were about these issues, and we were all very reasonable. It was empowering to realize we can get these kinds of changes on campus by having a clear idea of what we want, seeking good communication and going about it professionally,” Del Mastro said.
Patronella believes that having a larger food budget will increase student interest in campus events. “This change in school policy will improve student life by increasing dietary options for Drew students. We also expect that this increased availability of outside food will increase attendance at various club events. We are happy to see that clubs have already begun to take advantage of this new cap when submitting proposals for events,” he said.
“I hope this shows students that we really have more power than we think to make positive changes on campus. We just have to take initiative. Based on how willing Aramark and Mr. Buxbaum were to raise the limit, I can’t imagine that anyone asked about this before. So I just wonder how many daily annoyances we might be able to fix if we would go and communicate with people like Mark and I did here,” Del Mastro said.
The Student Government met on Sunday to discuss some of their upcoming events.
This meeting was more of a tutorial session for new members to the Student Government staff—though that’s not to say that nothing got done.
At last Sunday’s meeting, the Student Government met and discussed upcoming plans (Photo by James McCourt)
Issues addressed at the meeting included the rules and regulations for Student Government officials, as well as the appropriate way to address issues on the senatorial floor.
Earlier this week in a conversation with Senator Elect Emmanuel Luis Crespo (’15), we spoke of upcoming Student Government events for Drew. We discussed a possible proposition for increasing the Commons hours from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays.
The quality of the food at the Commons was also discussed. Because Drew was voted 15th worst college food in this year’s Princeton Review, the Student Government will be working hard to better the quality of the food this year.
The Student Government will also be working to gain access to more vegetarian-friendly foods. Crespo also said to expect “innovating ideas coming up from the freshman class.”
Any students with questions or concerns about the school as a whole will be able to attend the bi-weekly office hours all Student Government senators will hold. Students may use these meetings to bring up any issues they may have, or to discuss anything that they want to be brought up at the Student Government’s weekly meetings.
Crespo said, “this is vital to increase efficiency and awareness of what issues can be addressed on campus.” New members to Drew’s Student Government senatorial staff include Yanko Polanco Jr (’15), Hetika Shah (’15), Addison Del Mastro (’15), Crespo, and Frank Minio (’15).
These members will be sworn in at a special ceremony that will be held on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. This will precede their usual 7:00 p.m. weekly meeting. Both meetings will be held in LC 28.
Freshman Senators (Class of 2015)
Yanko Polanco Jr.
Addison Del Mastro
Emmanuel Luis Crespo
Sophomore Senators (Class of 2014)
Junior Senators (Class of 2013)
Jen Van Wingerden
*The fourth junior class senator position will be decided on Saturday in a tie-breaker vote between Storm Wyche and Timothy Barnum.
Senior Senators (Class of 2012)
After yesterday’s Student Government senatorial election, 308 students voted on the Constitutional amendment to shift the responsibilities of the Judiciary Council to the Attorney General.
The amendment passed, with 245 students, or 79.5% voting to approve it. 63 students, or 20.5% voting disapproved the amendment.
The Student Government senate passed the amendment at an August 29 meeting, in a 7 to 2 vote.
The question on the ballot read, “Do you approve or disapprove of the Student Government Constitutional amendment that would shift the responsibilities of the Judiciary Council to the Attorney General?”
Since the amendment passed, the Judiciary Council will be removed from the Student Government Constitution, and the Attorney General—Andrew Bishop (’14)—will now be responsible for hearing all appeals from Student Government decisions that involved a procedural error.
“I’m happy this amendment passed. It is really going to simplify the appeals process for clubs. As everyone is getting used to the new system, it is important to make this process as easy as possible. With a higher level of accountability, the appeals process will be more efficient and transparent to clubs in the entire student body,” said Student Government Attornney General Bishop.