The 47th Legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) voted unanimously to fund a new interface for electronic elections ballots presented by the Elections Reform Task Force, as well as the annual Diwali event hosted by the Indian Cultural Exchange (ICE).
SGA commissioned the Elections Reform Task Force to address concerns about past controversies during University-wide elections and to unify elections among all the divisional councils of the University under a single code.
The first problem the force addressed is the fact that ballots correspond to students’ class standing by credit hours instead of graduation year, according to the bill. The updated balloting system will now correspond to graduation year.
The system also randomizes the order of the candidates for each student, according to SGA President and College senior Raj Patel. He added that this is because he believes research suggests that the sequence has an effect on election results.
The task force requested $3,300 to modify the University Technology Services (UTS) electronic ballot. This money comes from the Fee Interest Contingency Account (FIC), which is composed of interest accumulated yearly from the Student Activities Fee account and can only be used for permanent structures and events that last for three or more years.
SGA also unanimously voted to fund ICE Diwali, an event that celebrates an Indian festival, following nearly 45 minutes of questions and debate.
Last week, SGA voted to table ICE’s Diwali bill because the Finance Committee had not reviewed it yet. ICE also asked for more than $9,000 at last week’s meeting.
At this week’s meeting, ICE asked for $5,500. SGA Finance Committee Chair and College senior Calvin Lee reported that the committee recommended that the SGA fund $2,500 because only about $11,500 exists in SGA’s contingency account.
Lee said on behalf of the Finance Committee that they were unwilling to fund more than $2,500 because the event appeals mostly to undergraduate students.
ICE Diwali Co-Chair and College sophomore Suyashi Singh said 50 percent of this year’s attendees are non-Indians.
Some legislators like full-time MBA Goizueta Business School David Kaplan said he was concerned that Diwali was not adequately advertised to graduate students.
ICE Co-President and College senior Aamil Sarfani said this year’s advertising efforts included Facebook promoting, a large banner at Asbury Circle and word of mouth. He added that most students on campus walk past Asbury Circle.
According to Singh, about 30 of the total 575 students will be graduate students.
Sarfani also said this year’s ticket sales exceeded expectations by a large margin. ICE expected the tickets to sell out in three days, but they sold out in three hours.
Some legislators said they wanted ICE to increase ticket prices from $25 to account for the price of the venue, which was far higher this year than in previous years.
Sarfani said the ticket price was decided four years ago and that ICE is unwilling to increase it because the event caters to students.
SGA Laney Graduate School Representative Laura Mariani said she does not think everything SGA funds must equally represent all divisions of the University.
Ultimately, SGA settled the debate and voted unanimously to fund $2,500 for Diwali. Members of the legislature also advised ICE to look into alternate ticketing sale methods in the future.
SGA Attorney General and College junior Chris Weeden also informed the Legislature that the new chartering system is on the SGA website and ready for student use.
– By Rupsha Basu