Columbia College Student Council voted Sunday night to remove the requirement that executive board candidates must run as a party.
The change, first proposed by CCSC Alumni Affairs Representative Daniel Liss, CC ’16, still requires the president and vice president of policy to run on the same ticket and will go into effect in the upcoming April elections.
CCSC decided last month to hold a referendum, open to voting by the entire Columbia College student body, during the special election for the CCSC class of 2016 representative. The referendum, while received favorably by 91 percent of voters, failed to meet the quorum of 30 percent of the student body.
CCSC President Daphne Chen, CC ’16, said last week that the council planned to use the results of that election as an indicator of student opinion.
On Sunday night, 25 members of CCSC voted in favor of the resolution, while one member abstained.
“I’m really happy about it,” Chen said. “This is a really big shake-up of elections—it’s going to totally change how people are going to run, who’s going to run, so I’m really happy with that. I think it’s the right decision.”
Liss also said that he was excited to see the resolution passed.
“I was particularly excited that the student council chose to pursue the most transparent process possible to get a poll of the student body, and to vote on this before the upcoming elections,” Liss said.
“I think that these changes will open up the election for more competition, and I think that it will give more choice to students when they’re electing their representatives. And that’s the whole point of democracy,” Liss added.
Loxley Bennett, CC ’15 and CCSC student services representative, abstained from voting because he felt that the potential candidacy of many current council members in the upcoming election was a conflict of interest.
“I think it’s very likely that many of us will be participating in the system we’re changing—I just didn’t feel like it was very ethical to make this change so close. I felt like there was no way self-interest didn’t play into it,” he said.
Bennett said that his decision to abstain was not because of the resolution itself.
“I actually really agree with the entire initiative,” Bennett said. “I think that anyone who believes they can be the best VP campus life, or the best VP communications, should be able to run. It’s just more democratic, it’s more fair—point-blank.”
Council members said that they felt CCSC’s passing of the resolution was in line with what the students who voted in last week’s referendum wanted.
“We weren’t sort of out of nowhere just saying ‘We want to do this, and we’re going to pass this,’” CCSC Vice President of Policy Bob Sun, CC ’14, said. “We asked students, and though we didn’t meet the threshold for it to be binding, the majority of CCSC saw it as an affirmation of what the students said.”