Council Tries, Fails to Resolve Centuries-Old Historical Debate

    Councilmembers confronted two largely unanticipated issues
    at last night’s meeting. An unscheduled presentation petitioned the A.S.
    Council for some sizable funding, while a proposed constitutional amendment met
    considerable resistance and was left unresolved.

    Members of the Emerging Leaders Program spoke to the council
    during public input to show off plans for their final project, despite the fact
    that their request for funding had not yet been considered by the finance
    committee and was not on the council’s agenda. The impromptu presentation
    appeared to catch most councilmembers off guard, as it was complete with
    projected budgetary needs, timeline and explanatory handouts.

    The leaders-in-training walked councilmembers through their
    prospective plans for the event they wish to host, which curiously focused on a
    theme of “the seven vices.” In addition to holding a concert and dance on May
    9, the emergent leaders explained how a prideful photo booth and a vain makeup
    booth in Price Center
    would carry the theme, among other vice booths.

    Leadership in action doesn’t come cheap: The so-called
    “Night of Mayhem” carried an $8,000 price tag. The council’s reaction to the
    request was unclear, but the finance committee will have to make its own
    recommendation later.

    The surprise funding presentation faded into the background
    later in the meeting when an innocuous-sounding amendment to the council’s
    standing rules fueled a prolonged discussion about political theory.

    The amendment specified an action plan for handling council
    elections ending in a tie. Under the current voting system, which was recently
    updated to include instant runoff voting, TritonLink would randomly select a
    winner between two first-place candidates.

    The proposed amendment would change the rules so that if two
    candidates tied after a runoff vote, the winner would be selected by a majority
    vote of the outgoing council. The similarity to the U.S. Constitution was
    uncanny — if two presidential candidates evenly split votes in the Electoral
    College, the choice is left to a vote in the House of Representatives.

    After some councilmembers raised objections to the
    amendment, Price Center Ballroom transformed into Independence Hall, and the
    council began its own 30-minute version of the Philadelphia Convention.

    Objections centered primarily around the appropriateness of
    involving councilmembers in choosing their direct successors, a situation that
    would potentially allow “slate politics” to persuade councilmembers to unfairly
    pick one candidate over another in the event of a tied runoff election.

    “This isn’t the federal government,” Thurgood Marshall
    College Senator Kyle Samia said. “I don’t think you can even claim we’re going
    to be impartial.”

    All-Campus Senator Meghan Clair also cautioned against the
    council’s apparent willingness to act in situations demanding impartiality.

    “We need to remove ourselves from conflicts like these,” she
    said.

    Sixth College
    Senator John Cressey amended the amendment to call for unlimited runoff
    elections, based on the improbability of repeated ties. His proposal failed.

    Biological Sciences Senator Emma Sandoe pointed out that the
    previous standing rules never included a provision for tied elections, an
    oversight that failed to drag the council down into a constitutional tailspin.

    Ultimately, the council could not agree on a way to improve
    upon James Madison’s flawed logic and voted to reconsider the matter at a later
    meeting.

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