Lawrence Committee - March Election Meeting Minutes

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Minutes for Lawrence Apartments Residents Committee Election Meeting March 25, 2008, 830PM. Lawrence Building 1 Community Room.

minutes compiled by: Patrick Murphy

  1. Committee President (Patrick Murphy) issued welcome, offered an apology to all candidates and residents for the confusion and difficulty of the election, and explained the meeting procedure. Eligible voters were identified by the Election Committee (Philipp Sadowski, Ilias Tagkopoulos, Yaron Ayalon).
  2. Ballots were distributed. Each candidate was identified and each gave a brief statement and/or handed out a short written statement to all meeting attendees. The Election Committee announced the directions for filling out ballots. Voters submitted their completed ballots and the Election Committee retreated to tally the votes.

    Ballot directions: To be eligible to vote, residents must have attended one meeting in the 2007/2008 academic year, prior to tonight. Voting happens independently for each office. Rank all candidates of each office in order of preference. If there is only one candidate, assign rank 1. Candidates not ranked will will be assigned the highest rank not assigned to any other candidate. If no candidate receives a majority of first choices, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated, and the votes cast for that candidate are redistributed to the remaining candidates according to the voters' indicated preference. This process is repeated until one candidate has an absolute majority among votes for candidates not eliminated.

  3. Each meeting attendee was given the opportunity to voice his or her concerns about the current election and offer suggestions for future elections. (First heard from were two attendees, Ben Schmidt and Ryan Davis, who were not eligible to vote under the election procedures.) See below for a summary of this
  4. Results were announced by the Election Committee (see below). There was the proposal to hold a Town Hall style meeting open to all Lawrence residents to review and suggest the Lawrence Constitution Amendments, and suggestion that the new Committee commit to implementing the changes discussed (see below). How precisely to do this in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws will be discussed by the Committee. The meeting was then adjourned.
  5. Election Results
    • President: Kim Tu
    • Vice President: Ye Chen
    • Secretary: Charles Lu
    • Web Master: Tamas Papp
    • Garden Coordinator: Katie Stolzfus-Dueck
    • Social Chair: Melanie Wood
    • GSG Rep: Keren Leiby
  6. Election Concerns and Suggestions:

    Ben Schmidt and Ryan Davis were critical of the Committee's record regarding accountability and openness, and emphasized the importance of these for future elections. Future elections should balance democratic access for all residents with the rewarding the service of committee members with the housing draw priority. In democratic political philosophy, a basic test of whether one should be given a right to vote is whether one's interests are affected. The implication is that the interests of all Lawrence residents are affected by the Committee's decisions and therefore all residents should be allowed to vote.

    Spencer Quiel and his wife Lauren commented that spouses should receive Lawrence Committee announcement emails and that residents should not be excluded from voting due to their inability to attend meetings. They suggested that a good voting procedure would be simple [easily implemented and with straightforward rules] and that the Committee should be much more open and communicative, with more frequent emails announcing events and meetings.

    Ye Chen commented on the necessity to balance rewarding the hard work of committee members with ensuring accountability to Lawrence residents and fairness to those residents who would like to join the Committee.

    Yunzhou Wei stated his opinion that those who had served on the Committee deserved the benefit of housing priority, and suggested that both outgoing and incoming Committee members be given housing priority.

    Robert Cooper agreed that those who had served on the Committee in the past deserved the benefit of housing priority. He felt that all residents be allowed to vote in Committee elections. He suggested that the new Committee should vote to rewrite the Constitution (so that all residents be allowed to vote in Committee elections) and hold new elections as soon as possible.

    Bin Li noted that several of the candidates were second-year students (thus assured housing next year), indicating a reservoir of residents interested in contributing to the community, irrespective of housing draw priority.

    Yiftah Elazar felt strongly, and irrespective of his success in this election, that all seats on the Committee be open for election every year. [Noted: Yiftah submitted to the Committee and Graduate School a detailed proposal to resolve the current election, which should be considered in discussions for future elections.]

    Charles Lu suggested that future elections should be held after the housing draw deadline and serving committee members be awarded the housing priority for the following year. He also suggested that benefits other than, or in addition to, housing priority be introduced [along the lines of the recently introduced GSG member Parking Priority].

    Phil Matchett inquired of the democratic political philosophers in the room whether there exist theories regarding elections with low turnout. This would be a topic for future discussion.

    Tim Stoltzfus-Dueck noted that, in response to the desire for more resident involvement and numerous small-scale events, that both Melanie Wood (chocolate tastings and movie night) and Keren Lieby (poker tournament) had held such events over the past semester (despite not being members of the Commitee) and that they had received the full support and financial assistance for every one of their proposed events.

    Katie Stoltzfus-Dueck commented on the history of the Committee [to give context to the discrepancies between the originally announced election procedure, the Constitution and Bylaws, and the procedure followed at the current meeting]. Low resident involvement, a dearth of candidates for positions, and a dissatisfaction with the original Constitution and Bylaws had led former versions of the Committee (prior to any current member) to change the election procedures. However, the text of the Constitution and Bylaws were never updated, for reasons unknown. Regarding future elections, if all Committee members are up for reelection, there could be a hesitancy to publicize the election. [A meeting participant pointed out that this could be remedied by inserting strict guidelines into the Bylaws governing the timing, content, and number of election announcements.] Katie then took a quick poll to find that a majority of those attending agreed that all seats be up for re-election every year.

    Keren Lieby argued for the need to be some minimal requirement for voting in future elections and as well as for candidacy to ensure that only serious and interested parties participate.

    Kim Tu offered an apology on behalf of the Committee for the current election mess and encouraged all present to participate in future Committee meetings and activities.

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