Collegiate Electoral Reform

David Catchpole s349436 at
Mon Oct 26 17:38:48 PST 1998

On Mon, 26 Oct 1998, Daniel Davis wrote:

>     Question:
>     In a large public university of about 42,000 students, with about
> 7500 of whom vote, what would the ideal electoral system be?

For the representative council: Any STV system- Faculty based or at large
For the executive: Anything but plurality.

>     Should the student senate be elected in two elections a year, half
> elected in one and vice versa, to allow for the learning curve of new
> senators?

This is an interesting problem for people who are involved in their
Student Unions (and yes, I am a student politician and proud of it). A
lot of first years and new students are interested in being involved in
their Student Union but are left out. One solution might be to let these
students vote, early in the year, their representatives, who would take up
an appropriate portion of the representative council. It is appropriate
that the at-large elections are held towards the end of the year.

>     Should there be a student president, or an executive board?

Our student union has an executive whose roles are defined by the Union's
constitution and regulations. They are elected separately every year and
most (excluding our new "Faculty Executive Officers," who will be elected
next year,) are members of the Executive Council. Amongst these executive
is a President, who can exercise some emergency powers. There is a
mechanism of recall, where a petition of 10% of the members or a
resolution by the representative council means a new election is called

>     Should student political parties be allowed?

Well, we've traditionally called them "teams," but yes. On our campus the
significant groups are the broad left ticket (of which I'm a member), the
post-materialist/centre ticket (who are, strangely enough, the most easily
affiliated with a political party- the Australian Democrats), and a
right-wing ticket. The left and right tickets have a tendency to change
their name every year, for several traditional and internal reasons. The
Democrats' ticket runs as "Access." By significant I mean they are
actually represented on council- The Democrats have never, and are
unlikely ever to, hold the balance of power in the representative council.
We generally win, but occasionally the right wins and screws with

In fact, Australian student unions are a good example of how
"representative party government," as opposed to "responsible party
government," works, for better and for worse.

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