Senate: Mass campaign e-mail violates bylaws
By LAURA ROMPF
Assistant News Editor
Candidates for student body elections cannot use e-mail to directly communicate with voters, dorm representatives decided at Wednesday's Student Senate meeting.
Judicial Council president Kelly Folks presented her committee's bylaw regarding e-mail Regulations in support of the resolution.
"The problem of abusing e-mail has not been an issue yet because e-mail simply hasn't been around," Folks said. "Now everyone assumes everyone has e-mail and therefore it can be abused easily. Candidates have the option of talking to people personally or making a public appearance, but soliciting votes by e-mail is not allowed."
Candidates running for office are encouraged to create a Web site and then the Judicial Council will send out an e-mail to notify students of these various Web sites, Folks said.
Senators reactions varied regarding the proposal.
"My personal opinion is that if people want to sit around and type in each individual address and waste that much time, they should be allowed," said Welsh Family Hall senator Candice Marcum. "People then have the option to click on it, delete it, and never have to even read it."
Other senators disagreed, saying e-mail should not be used in political campaigns.
"I back Kelly," said Brian O'Donoghue, Keough Hall senator. "It is the senate's responsibility to ensure that abusing e-mail does not happen."
"It is not fair that people who don't want these e-mails still receive them," said off-campus senator Pat Foy. "This is abusing people and thus this issue should be made black and white. It must be clear because even eliminated all e-mails, there will still be issues. We have a committee assigned to this issue, and I support their opinion."
Overall, almost all senators agreed with Foy and O'Donoghue and the resolution was passed.
The senate also discussed Saint Mary's reaction to The Observer's role as an independent publication.
"Since this is not a black-and-white issue, the Saint Mary's student government was hesitant to comment until we had some clarification as to how the College's administration viewed our position on this issue," said Saint Mary's/Notre Dame liaison Maureen Donovan in a prepared statement.
The College administration perceives Saint Mary's role as a secondary one of subscriber and contributor to the newspaper, Donovan explained. "But The Observer's declared `independent' newspaper is never totally independent because it exists because the University is there. A college newspaper is more of a laboratory of those who wish to practice the craft of journalism. Therefore, it is not without the need for supervision to some extent."
Donovan explained that Notre Dame has a different relationship with The Observer than Saint Mary's, whose role will remain secondary because it does not provide the same resources as Notre Dame.
"In response to the restrictions being placed on The Observer's advertising policy, the Saint Mary's College administrators told our student government that they would not discourage the student body to exercise their personal rights to express their views, as subscribers on this issue in the form of editorials, et cetera," Donovan said. "However, the administration did not feel that it was their responsibility to comment on an issue that defines The Observer's relationship with the University of Notre Dame."
In other senate news:
u Vice president Michael Palumbo noted that student government lacks a SafeRide coordinator. As soon as one is hired, SafeRide will be up and running, he said.
"If we could get a coordinator and get drivers trained, we could be up and running next week; but that is ideal," Palumbo said. "To give you our honest opinion, it's really in the preliminary stage."
u Palumbo also said the online book sale is awaiting help from the Office of Information Technologies. "It is a little stag," he said, "but we're trying to get it started up again."
u Emily Todd, Hall Presidents' Council liaison to the senate, announced that HPC's date week will be Feb. 21 through 27. "This semester we have extra money and we are asking dorms to sponsor separate events," she explained. "Thus, these will be held on campus and more students will be able to attend."
All News Stories for Thursday, January 27, 2000