Lawrence Committee – March Election Meeting Minutes

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.