Last Monday, the AAS voted on a motion to overturn the April 15 JC ruling regarding campaign expenditures. The motion failed to pass; twenty senators voted yes in favor of the motion, eight senators voted no and three senators abstained, meaning the motion fell just short of the three-fourths majority necessary to overturn a JC ruling.
The closeness of the AAS vote on Monday is reminiscent of the AAS presidential election, and, in fact, in the minds of many students the two are one and the same. If the AAS motion had passed, another AAS presidential election would have been necessary. Therefore, knowing that the only candidate in question in the JC ruling was also the president elect, a senator voting in support of the motion to overturn the JC ruling would have in effect been a vote to invalidate the AAS presidential run-off election results.
The two issues, however, are distinct and each deserve a separate treatment. It is extremely unfortunate that the they have been confounded. The motion to overturn the JC ruling should have focused entirely on the question of whether the JC presented a valid interpretation of “campaign expenditures,” not just under the circumstances of this particular election cycle but as a general matter of principle and precedent. Nonetheless, with the knowledge of how their votes would affect the outcome of the AAS presidential election, it was inevitable that potential personal partiality towards the presidential candidates would have distorted senators’ decisions on a constitutional issue that should have been dealt with in isolation from the particular candidates involved.
The JC should have anticipated how personal partiality towards the candidates would affect students’ reactions to their decision. They may not have expected that the AAS would motion to overturn the ruling, but they should have planned for such a contingency. Therefore, by disclosing the names of individual candidates in their opinions, the JC’s actions reflect a lack of foresight. Since the JC ruled that no candidate had violated the Constitution, there was no reason to disclose the names of the individual candidates in their opinions. After concluding that no candidate should be disqualified, the JC should have revised the publicly available opinions to refer to the candidates generically, such as “presidential candidate one” and “candidate two.” If the JC had maintained the anonymity of the candidates in their decision, last Monday’s motion could have focused solely on the actual constitutional issue of campaign expenditure rather than being confounded with the outcome of the run-off election.
Since the JC did not maintain the anonymity of the candidates in their public opinions, senators should have been aware of how their personal bias may have affected their ability to vote impartially and acted accordingly. It is extremely inappropriate how neither presidential candidate in the run-off chose to abstain from voting on the motion. Senators who campaigned extensively on behalf of either of candidates should have also abstained, as should have the JC members themselves.
If anything positive has emerged from the recent AAS motion and elections, it is that they have instigated a greater degree of political fervor among many students. Both results may seem coincidental, but the closeness of the votes in both the AAS presidential election and Monday’s motion vividly illustrate that every vote does indeed count.