Student Senate focused last week’s meeting on finishing the freshman campus senate elections. After the elections had taken place, freshman representative candidates Will Kramer and Sam Lawrence were disqualified for having campaign materials within 50 feet of the Memorial Union. Kramer received the most votes of the election with 98 votes, while Sam Lawrence came in second receiving 73. Both individuals filed an appeal, leaving Senate with the final decision for disqualifications.
“I was elected democratically by the freshman class and I received the most amount of votes for the freshman class,” Kramer said in his opening speech. “So to disqualify me would take away the freshman voice to vote for their representative in Senate.”
The basis for the disqualification of Kramer was that his business card was found on top of the ballot box. Kramer defended himself by bringing in the person who claims to have planted the business card there. Kramer said he cannot control the actions of other people and should not be held responsible for them. The arguments against Kramer were bylaws that explicitly say all campaign material is solely the responsibility of the author. The argument came down to should Senate follow a strict interpretation of the bylaws or a situational interpretation.
“I believe the responsibilities of the elections committee is to make sure that the votings are maintained in a proper fashion, at least that’s what I was under the impression of,” Kramer said in his final plea to Senate. Despite Kramer’s attempts and his landslide victory, votes do not change the rules and Kramer was voted to be disqualified from the race.
Senate then shifted its focus to Lawrence who had a flyer found on the ground on the ramp outside of the Memorial Union. Lawrence was braving the weather and campaigning outside the Union in legal distance when one of his papers was found on the ramp.
“Let’s think about this for a second, while making the candidates responsible for their campaign materials sounds great on paper, there is absolutely no way for me, personally, to enforce that,” Lawrence said in his opening speech. The debate came down between the definition of the word “post” and the bylaw versus the declaration letter; as the bylaw specifically says you cannot post any campaign material within 50 feet of the Memorial Union, while the declaration letter that all the candidates sign says you cannot have any campaign material within 50 feet of the Union.
“About thirty minutes before the polls closed a young lady, a freshman, approached me,” Lawrence said. “She asked about how long I’d been out here, I told her I had been out here for two and a half hours and she said, ‘I’m voting for you. It’s clear you’re dedicated and concerned for URI.’ I like to think the other 72 people who voted for me thought the same…I earned these votes with dedication and serving my community.” Â
In the end, Senate agreed with Lawrence’s pleas. And by a very close vote the disqualification of Lawrence was overturned and he was officially sworn in with the other elected freshman representatives.