ASPC Moves to Paperless Elections; Vote Divided

The Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Senate met Monday to discuss new campaign regulations for the upcoming ASPC elections. The two main issues at hand were whether student organizations should be allowed to redirect ASPC funds towards supporting candidates that they endorse, and whether ASPC should push for candidates to run more environmentally friendly campaigns.

ASPC senators first turned their attention to the debate over campaign funding from student clubs. During last year’s elections, controversy arose when leaders of some ASPC-funded organizations endorsed candidates in email campaigns, and some candidates who were not endorsed lodged complaints with Senate regarding the permissibility of endorsements from ASPC-funded organizations.

Last semester, Senate debated the issue but failed to pass any resolution, and on Monday, the new Senate unanimously voted to pass a measure prohibiting financial contributions from ASPC-funded organizations to candidates.

However, according to Jeff Levere PO ’12, who served as South Campus Representative two years ago and who is running for North Campus Representative this year, this resolution may have addressed a non-issue. According to Levere, candidates already had a maximum campaign budget of $20, which limits the significance of banning financial contributions. He said that the issue of ASPC-funded organizations endorsing candidates through email remained unresolved, even after Monday’s vote banning financial contributions.

“The senators who were pushing to ban financial contributions were… the students that were [endorsed] last semester,” Levere said. “By voting on this non-issue, they essentially distracted attention from the actual issue [of campaign endorsements],” he said.

In an email to TSL, ASPC President Nate Brown PO ’12 said discussion of the endorsements issue wasn’t ignored, but rather postponed.

“There was no agreement on Senate on the matter of clubs and organizations publicly endorsing candidates, and almost no senator liked any proposed language on the subject,” he wrote. “So Senate tabled the issue until after the fall election and unanimously approved very clear language about financial support from clubs and organizations.”

“I’m sure the issue of endorsements will be revisited in the future,” he added.

After the vote banning financial contributions, Senate moved to discussions of making campaigns more sustainable. The senators’ main concern was the overuse of paper flyers during campaigns. After discussing proposals that would have capped the number of paper flyers permitted to candidates and reimbursed candidates for printing on recycled paper, Senate nullified those two proposals by voting 6 to 4 to instead ban all paper flyers from the campaign, thereby making the election paperless outside of candidate statements and large posters made in the ASPC poster lab.

Brown said the vote for paperless elections followed extended discussions and negotiations within Senate.

“For a majority of Senate, the environmental costs of flyers around campus outweigh any benefits they bring,” he wrote in an email to TSL. “Some senators were also concerned that flyers remain up for weeks after the elections, when candidates forget to take them down and housekeeping often ends up removing them.”

“I personally favor a capping system where a candidate could only print a certain number of flyers on recycled paper,” he added.

Also covered in Monday’s meeting was the issue of gendered language in the ASPC constitution. A topic of discussion at Senate meetings for several weeks now, the senators agreed to put to the broader student body a vote to change all pronouns and gendered language in the Constitution to gender-neutral language. That vote will take place at the same time as elections next week, which run from 9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19, until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

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