I’m voting for this guy

Check out what came into my facebook inbox last night:

My dear friends,
I would first like to thank you for joining this group. It means a lot to me, almost as if you had liked a status of mine, or poked me.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to message you at midnight when voting starts. I will be working, at Einsteins, like a real American. But let me tell you what you should do tomorrow.

Between 8 am and 9 am, you should wake up (unless you don’t have class) and shower. If you are a night showerer, just stick to your regular schedule. During your energizing breakfast, consider voting for me.
Alex Norris
Go to class. Try and interact with what your professors say on a deep level. Really consider the implications of all you learn. If you use a laptop to take notes, you may find yourself on the internet during a lull in the intellectual discussion. This would be a great time to pop over to union.brandeis.edu and vote for me.

At some point you should have lunch in one of our many exciting cafeterii. If you have friends, they would be the ideal people to have lunch with. If, at some point, the conversation turns to your favorite Student Judiciary candidates, you might make mention of me as a possible contender.

In the afternoon, you should get outside. You’ve earned it, you’ve been hard at work in class all day. While you’re playing disc golf out on the quad, maybe you should take a break and run around madly shouting at the top of your lungs, “ALEX NORRIS FOR STUDENT JUDICIARY! I RANK HIM NUMBER ONE IN THE INSTANT RUNOFF OF MY HEART” This is obviously only if you have time.

In the evening, you will no doubt eat dinner. Maybe, if you are with your special someone, you could make subtle mention of how much you wish they were me. You could express that if they voted for me, they would be ten times more likely to get some that night. If your usual sexual preferences would hinder this, I urge you to ignore them.

Finally, if you haven’t voted yet after all this, do it. It’s more important than your homework, even if that isn’t true. And then do what I’ll do, and eagerly await the results.

Bone-crunchingly yours,
Alex Norris

I’m voting for this guy.
Continue reading “I’m voting for this guy”

Getting Rid of Robert’s Rules

One of the biggest arguments in favor of the Union government restructuring proposal was that it would remove the difficult parliamentary procedure of the Senate.  The new Union Assembly would have been a smaller body, free from the obscure minutiae of Robert’s Rules of Order and easier for students to approach and work with.

Even if the amendment had passed, it’s uncertain that this would actually have happened.  The operating procedures for the Union governing bodies are found in the Bylaws, not the Constitution, and it would have been up to the Assembly members to decide to make the change. The five member Union Judiciary constantly chose to employ the most formal procedures possible; it’s entirely likely that the larger Assembly would have retained Robert’s Rules.

Still, the proposal had the support of at least 10 Senators, and I think that very few people would disagree that the devotion to Robert’s Rules is probably the biggest detriment to the Senate, both in student opinion and in quick and easy decision-making.  So how can the Union get rid of Robert’s Rules for good and replace it with a less formal, more appropriate debate format?

Actually, it would be very easy.  In fact, the Union Senate could do it at their next meeting, and we’d never have to worry about “points of order” or “motions to the previous question” again.  All it would take is a Bylaw amendment, which would need to be approved by a 2/3 vote of the Senate, and any Senator could submit the legislation.  I don’t know what procedure would replace it, but I’m sure it wouldn’t take much research to find a procedure more suited for smaller assemblies.  Alternatively, the Senate could just go without a formal procedure (as it does when it enters committee of the whole), which works surprisingly well as long as the chair is active in keeping the group focused.  Anything that allows the focus of the debate to be on the merits of the proposal rather than on the debate process itself would be an improvement.

There’s definitely a proper time and place for parliamentary procedure, but it’s not in a 20 person student assembly that focuses mainly on chartering clubs.  There’s nothing keeping the Senate from changing the way it operates, and no one likes the way it works now.  Why don’t they do something about it?

Leeyat Slyper Sworn In

For those of you who follow such things, the Elections Commission changed its mind on who won the Union Judiciary elections, and Leeyat Slyper was sworn in as the fifth Justice during Wednesday’s inaugurations.  Regardless of what you think about the interpretation of the elections rules, I can’t see anyone complaining too much about this; she clearly wanted the position when no one else did.  Congratulations, Leeyat! (and Justin, Matt, Judah, and Neda!  and everyone else who was sworn in on Wednesday!).

Who’s on Our New UJ?

There’s a debate in the comments of the election results post over who exactly won the Union Judiciary race.  This is a complex situation, and there’s a lot of confusion surrounding it.  I’ve looked at the election rules, the Constitution, and the vote totals as thoroughly as I can, and here are five scenarios on the election results to consider:

Scenario 1. What should happen: “Mandate” should be defined as being chosen by over 50% of the voters. Currently, it appears to be calculated as getting over 50% of the total votes, which is absolutely nonsensical because it’s impossible to get a mandate in a multi-seat election. In that case, Justin, Matt, Judah, and Neda received mandates, and, since Leeyat was chosen by over 10% of the voters (NOT votes), there should be a final round consisting of just her and abstain.

Scenario 2. What should happen otherwise: Article IX, Section 9 6 of the Constitution, which trumps the election rules, should take hold, and the five students with the most votes should be seated. Since Justin, Matt, Judah, Neda, and Leeyat all got more votes than abstain, they should all be seated.

Scenario 3. What should happen under the elections commissioners’ flawed and unconstitutional interpretation of the elections rules: Seeing as no one got over 50% of the vote, all candidates that got over 10% should go to a final round, as long as the final round ballot would be different than the first round ballot. Since this would be the case, there should be a final round consisting of Justin, Matt, Judah, Neda, and abstain.  See how messed up this is?

Scenario 4. What did happen: Justin, Matt, Judah, and Neda were all declared winners since they got over 10%, and Leeyat lost because she didn’t. I can’t find ANY reading of the Constitution/elections rules that supports this position.

Scenario 5. What will happen: Fucked if I know. I just can’t figure what the elections commissioners could possibly be thinking. Why is there always some kind of mistake in determining the results?

UJ Declines to Hear Case on Electoral Eligibility

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.

Continue reading “UJ Declines to Hear Case on Electoral Eligibility”

Write-in and vote NEDA EID for Justice to the Union Judiciary at 12AM!

The Student Union is in dire need of your help.

There are five positions for the Justice to the Union Judiciary and only three people are technically running. As a voter, you can select up to 5 people. Seniors can also vote.

Since my start at Brandeis University, I’ve attended two Union Judiciary trials and I am now more than willing to help.

This year particularly has been tough for students within the Judiciary proceedings.

I ask you, now, to please help yourself by voting for me as a write-in candidate.

If you want change and representation, you must rally.

After today’s trial, I feel it is imperative that students, whether a racial minority or majority, not withdraw from the system.
Instead, learn to endure difficult situations and channel your emotions into judicial action.

I am tired of complaining; it is time to take charge and restore Brandeis’s social integrity and justice system.

My Academic Path:
I am an English major and a Legal studies minor.

As your Justice to the Union Judiciary:

I will provide an unique perspective and always make decisions with the well-being of Brandeis’s community in mind.


ON SUNDAY, THE 26th, FROM 12AM- 11:59PM

The Trial Of The Century

The frivolous lawsuit that Eric Alterman has launched against Alex Melman, Lev Hirschhorn, and the Union Senate is set to take place Saturday at 5pm. Location is TBD, witness lists and evidence are due by Friday at 5pm.

Below is the text of Chief Justice Rachel Graham Kagan’s email:

Having received a case for review from petitioner Eric Alterman against the Student Union Senate and specifically Class of 2011 Senators Lev Hirschhorn and Alex Melman, the Union Judiciary has unanimously decided to grant certiorari, and thus has agreed to hear the case.

Continue reading “The Trial Of The Century”