Letter to the Editor: Gries defends Constitution Commission decision

TO THE EDITOR:

It seems that the Constitution Commission is now subject to the poison pen of a couple of letter writers dissatisfied with our decision to uphold action of the Elections Commission to move the Spring General Election.

Had our ruling favored the opposite argument, I wonder if we would have earned their admiration or if they would repeat the characterization that our conduct at the hearing we held was “Very unprofessional.”

The Constitution Commission issued a ruling and opinion following the hearing. The written statement acknowledged but did not embrace arguments of those advocating the voiding of an Elections Commission decision to hold the Spring General Election on April 25th.

When one part of the MSSA Constitution appears to be conflict with another clause, it is important to weigh the arguments of all sides, and in this case the underlying motives of the Elections Commission were called into question. The Constitution Commission determined there was no malicious intent to favor one group of candidates over another when the election date was changed. Intent matters.

It was a surprise to read the comment that not enough time was allowed to hear the competing points of view about which clause within the MSSA Constitution should be favored. The election date change dispute was not a mystery to most what with published news stories and front page letters to the editor detailing claims of both sides. All such documentation was presented at the hearing.

I doubt much was missed in the hearing as oral arguments were also accepted from the two letter writers and from the student complainant who formally challenged the Elections Commission date change. The letter writers pitched a Fall Election solution which was viewed as creating more problems than it would solve, and left unanswered was who could “legally” be in charge of the student government for the five months between May and September.

Our ruling was a narrow one focusing on a limited circumstance where a departure was allowed to the “2nd Tuesday in April” clause in the Constitution. The ruling rested in part on the “sole authority” clause dealing with the Elections Commission’s powers, but it does not give the Elections Commission permission to routinely deviate, or for sinister reasons, ignore the “2nd Tuesday in April” language.

Daniel “DJ” Gries, MSSA Constitution Commission Chair

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