This past Friday, the Elections Chair to Thelomathesian Society, Olivia Hess ‘18, sent an email detailing a possible amendment to the student government’s constitution. As it stands now, Thelmo’s constitution prohibits any Senior Executive Board member from endorsing candidates running for a Senior Executive Board position. Executive Board members are allowed to encourage students to run for office, but are not permitted to publicly announce which candidate they think is best for the job. However, this may be subject to change.
In her email to the St. Lawrence University community, Hess stated that during this week’s meeting of the Thelmo senate, the possibility of changing the constitution to allow Executive Board members to endorse candidates was discussed at length. She noted though that such a change would not take place until the senate settled upon a comprehensive list of rules and regulations to govern such endorsements. Hess concluded the email by saying that she did not feel comfortable so drastically amending the Thelmo constitution without the input of the student body, attaching a survey in which students can either select “Yes,” “No,” or “Abstention” to the proposition.
If such an amendment were to pass the Thelmo Senate, the election process would undergo a most notable change that would perhaps immediately impact results of the following election. An endorsement from a current member could very well swing the election in a candidate’s favor. As Hess suggests, strict guidelines would therefore need to be implemented to oversee the scope of endorsements and limit the ability of standing Executive Board members to potentially campaign with and for candidates.
When asked for further comment, Hess explained the impetus of such a proposal. In her tenure as the Elections Chair, and during her time serving Thelmo in other capacities, Board members have bemoaned their inability to publicly support candidates. A possible benefit of an endorsement, argues Hess, would be in legitimizing and lending credibility to capable candidates, who have only served the Thelmo senate for a semester or two. Hess says she has found that, “Executive Board members do still tend to give their opinions on candidates, but it just happens to be behind closed doors.” In allowing current members to publicly broadcast their endorsements of candidates, Hess believes that Thelmo would then be able to regulate some of the back-door party politics, which undermine other campaign rules.
The Hill News also reached out to President R. Christopher Di Mezzo ‘18 for comment on the matter, who said he wanted “to make crystal clear that this possible amendment to the Constitution is coming from the Elections Committee, not the Thelomathesian Society Executive Board.” When asked as to how such an amendment might be beneficial to the election process, Di Mezzo maintained that, “The entire Executive Board is, and will remain, neutral throughout the debate of this amendment.”