Eligibility alteration for AMS Speaker divides student leaders

Motion to render Lockridge eligible for AMS election leads to debate in Assembly

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AMS Assembly devolved into heated debate and accusations of personal bias on Dec. 1 when a motion arose that could potentially affect the upcoming January executive elections — namely, the eligibility of AMS Speaker Palmer Lockridge.

The argument began with a proposed amendment to Section 2.2.3 of the AMS Constitution, which formerly prohibited the AMS Assembly Speaker from running for AMS Executive in the January election.

Prior to 2014-15, the AMS Speaker and CEO roles were one position under the AMS. That year, they were split into two.

The amendment would see the Speaker — a position currently filled by Lockridge, ArtSci ’17 — eligible to run as an executive candidate, following a second reading in January which is scheduled immediately after the nomination period for elections closes.

The purpose of the motion, moved by member-at-large Jon Wiseman (former Commissioner of Internal Affairs) was listed in the agenda as a completion of “housekeeping” after the split of the CEO and Speaker roles in 2014-15.

However, after being presented to Assembly, ASUS representative Craig Draeger, who lost his bid for AMS Vice President (Operations) in 2013, inquired whether the change — as with all other historical alterations to AMS roles — would take effect only after Lockridge finished out his term.

Learning that the motion was intended to be effective prior to the impending elections, Draeger and his former teammate, 2013 presidential candidate and current member-at-large Alexander Prescott, took strong stances against Lockridge’s eligibility, putting forward a second amendment that the change would only apply to next year’s speaker and onward.

The amendment was seconded by Vice President (University Affairs) Carolyn Thompson, and brought into discussion. Wiseman argued that the split happened years ago, and the eligibility should have been addressed long ago — eliminating the need to wait longer.

“I’d hate to seek a change simply for the purpose of tradition,” Quinn Giordano, Chair of the AMS Board of Directors, argued. “Tradition has evolved. That’s why we’re doing the change.”

However, Draeger noted that the protocol was used as recently as two years ago, including the change of the Commission of Internal Affairs while Wiseman served as its last commissioner.

Even if the legislation “shouldn’t be there,” he said, they couldn’t place their own perception of a situation over AMS policy and precedent.

Prescott added that any individual in an AMS job also would have considered a role’s limitations before applying. Those limitations may have deterred other candidates, and the motion would be unfair to those who may have forgone applying for Speaker in order to apply for AMS executive.

“It’s something the current speaker, I’m sure, had to factor in themselves,” Prescott said.

Following his comments, many assembly representatives used the term “cosmetic error” or “cosmetic change” when describing why the role should be altered during Lockridge’s year.

However, after several members adamantly defended the motion’s immediacy, Prescott directly questioned the integrity of the change.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, is this an implication that the current Speaker is looking to run in the coming AMS election? Is that his wishes? Is that why this is an issue at this time of year?”

Prescott’s question was left unanswered after the three-hour meeting, with members of assembly proceeding to heatedly debate whether Prescott asking Lockridge his plans was “relevant”.

Judicial Affairs Manager Ryan Pistorius noted that Assembly does approve candidates following the nomination period, to which member-at-large Andrew DiCapua clarified involves overseeing policy and governing documents rather than screening potential candidates.

Voting on the amendment to postpone the enacting of the policy failed, with the entirety of the current Executive abstaining voluntarily. “Dave, Carolyn and I have decided to abstain on amendment and main motion because we don’t see it as our place,” President Tyler Lively noted.

Following a divided vote, Wiseman’s original motion passed, rendering Lockridge eligible for candidacy pending a second reading in January.

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