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UA Election Process Begins in Confusion

Raymond Louie -- The Tech
John Kymissis '98

By Sarah Y. Keightley
News Editor

In a flurry of activity that will affect this spring's Undergraduate Association elections, Chairman of the UA Judicial Review Board Albert L. Hsu '96 made a preliminary decision last night to overturn an Election Code amendment passed at last Monday's UA Council meeting.

At the meeting, council members voted to reduce the number of signatures candidates need to get to run for office. The change was made to encourage more people to run for office, but at the same time not to make it too easy, said UA President Vijay P. Sankaran '95.

"There's been a drought of candidates in previous years," said UAC Floor Leader Russell S. Light '98.

However, these changes were invalid because having "the UAC change signature requirements in the middle of the election process creates a conflict of interest," Hsu said.

As chairman of the UA Judicial Review Board, Hsu has jurisdiction over any UA disputes, and has the power to reverse legislation or policies that seem to violate the intent of the UA Constitution.

The dispute was "throwing the elections into chaos," Hsu said. The Election Commission, which manages the elections, announced the signature requirements during Independent Activities Period, and released the packets for interested candidates on the first day of the term, Feb. 7.

After last Monday's UAC decision, the Election Commission "refused to modify election packets to incorporate the new changes or to recognize the changes as valid, pending review by the UA Judicial Review Board," Hsu said. Light came to Hsu on Saturday with a complaint that the Election Commission was not incorporating the new signature requirements, Hsu said.

The motion to reduce the number of signatures was made so that the numbers "were a little bit more representative of what the position entailed," Sankaran said. The largest change was the reduction in signatures required for UA Finance Board candidates - from 220 to 50.

The number of signatures required for UAP and UAVP candidates was changed by the UAC from 440 to 400. The number of signatures for class president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary was reduced from 110 to 100 and to 50 for class social chair and publicity chair.

Change in deadlines

Because of the various delays and confusion about changes, the Election Commission altered the candidate application process by moving everything up one week, according to Election Commissioner Ioannis Kymissis '98.

Elections will be held on Wednesday, March 22, and students can turn in petitions to get on the ballot up until March 17. The commission will start certifying candidates at a meeting on March 4, Kymissis said.

Candidates cannot campaign until three days after turning in their packets to the Election Commission, so those who turn their packets in later will be at a disadvantage, Kymissis said.

"They will miss things like study breaks and debates" that candidates traditionally take part in, Light said. There will be two study breaks and two or three debates, he said.

"We expect plenty of people to run. We seem to have a high interest," Kymissis said. Currently 68 candidate packets have been distributed, he said.

Current candidates

A few students have already declared their candidacies for UA offices. Current UAVP Carrie R. Muh '96 is running for UAP with Erik S. Balsley '96 as her running mate.

Muh feels that her experience with the UA and the administration, along with Balsley's new ideas, will make a good combination.

The team's goal will be to try to improve UA relations with students, "which is what I tried to do last year," Muh said.

John S. Hollywood '96 said he is probably going to run for UAP although he does not yet have a running mate.

"I have an idea of what I think the UA should do which is a little bit different that the normal visions of the UA," he said.

Hollywood said that the two parts of his campaign platform would be to facilitate communication between the student body and the rest of MIT, and to make the UA's attitude more like that of a service club, such Circle K or Alpha Phi Omega.

One of Hollywood's ideas is to have a "world tour" to meet with students in the different living groups. Hollywood wants to "start talking to students rather than throwing paper at them," as with surveys.