The Union Judiciary just sent out an e-mail denying certiorari (declining to hear) a case brought by Henry Schleifer, a former write-in candidate for next year’s UJ. Henry had formed a Facebook group to campaign for the position despite the fact he’s currently studying abroad. However, because his term would technically begin next Wednesday during spring inaugurations, he is ruled to have violated Article IX Section 2 of the Union Constitution, which states “To be eligible to run for an elected Union office, a student must be… Studying on the Waltham campus for the entire period in which s/he will hold office.” This decision was made by Tia Chatterjee on the basis of a precedent set in Tansey v. Herman in a 2002 UJ case and upheld on precedent by this year’s Judiciary.
Tia did the right thing by upholding the accepted interpretation of the law, but the fact that this precedent exists at all can only be described as fucking stupid (though even more explicit phrases might be appropriate as well). Much of the justification for the decision in Tansey v. Herman is no longer applicable under more recent study abroad rules, and I find it to be pretty weak in any case (the entire decision can be found here in PDF form). It seems that the Constitution has been changed in the time since the decision to make the “studying on the Waltham campus” requirement a little more apparent, but there’s still a very good case that the current interpretation is not what was originally intended. Tia is quoted in the complaint as saying “Seniors who are quad senators violate that section too. terms for quad senators run from september to september. currently the quad senators for Village, Ridgewood, Mods, Ziv, Off campus and Charles River are all seniors. [sic]” The Village and Mod Quads are for seniors only; under this interpretation, there is NO ONE who is eligible to represent either in the Senate.
I wish that the UJ had decided to hear this case and challenge precedent, especially considering that there aren’t enough balloted candidates for the five open spots, making it unlikely that anyone would really object. The quickest way to change the policy from here on in would be to launch a challenge to one of the six aforementioned senators, a challenge which the UJ would be forced to accept for consistency’s sake. I don’t suggest doing this without that particular senator’s consent; it would be unfair to make a senior who’s about to graduate go through the hassle of defending their seat for just one Senate meeting. However, if one of those senators did agree, it would be a nice way to end their Union careers by helping to change this foolish precedent.
As it is, juniors studying about during their spring semester are prevented from serving in Union government positions for the final two years of their Brandeis career merely because of the 10 or so days they miss, which, because they fall during finals, are very rarely active days for the Union in any case. I think most people would agree with me that that just isn’t right.
The full text of the complaint and the order denying certiorari are below the fold.