24 Mar

Dear Students of the College,

 

Recently, the College Council was tasked with appointing a representative to the Honor Committee from the College of Arts and Sciences. To be more transparent, the following letter elaborates on the process and deliberations of members of the Council.

Constitutionally, the College Council was in charge of making the appointment to fill the vacancy on the Honor Committee. Section 3 of Article IV of the Honor Committee Constitution reads, “Unless otherwise provided in a school’s constitution, a vacancy shall be filled by another election within a reasonable time.” More information can be found in the full version of the Honor Committee Constitution.

Section 7 of Article V of the College Council Constitution reads, “In the event that a representative position to the Council becomes vacant, the Council shall appoint a member of the CLAS Student Body to fill the vacancy on an interim basis until either a special election/selection is held or the term expires. This power applies to the positions of the Elected Officers of the College, Appointed Officers of the College, the CLAS Department Representatives and Chair(s), the CLAS Underclassman Committee, and the CLAS Liaisons.” To clarify a potential ambiguity in the above wording, the “representative position to the Council” is the CLAS representative to the Honor Committee, since CLAS representatives to other committees are part of the College Council (see Section 1 of Article IV).  More information can be found in the full version of the College Council Constitution.

Per the aforementioned documents, the College Council had a few options to fill the vacancy.  The Council considered holding a College-wide election, since that would be the most democratic method to filling the representative position.  However, considering that the recent election was only a few weeks ago and a new one would be expected to have low voter turnout, which could skew new results, members of Council felt that the recent election results most accurately represent the will of students in the College.  Furthermore, the Honor Committee asked that the new representative be selected before Friday, March 20th, leaving the College Council only two days to make a decision (I was notified that the Council would need to make the appointment on Wednesday, March 18th).  On such a short timeline, a school-wide election was not feasible.

Members of the College Council were notified about potential avenues to move forward and asked to take an electronic survey to determine what should be done.  The results of that survey show that the Council decided appointing the person who was the first runner-up in the election (sixth in the original election) would be the best choice.

In the past, when the Honor Committee and College Council have been in similar situations, the College Council has usually appointed the individual who was the first runner-up in the most recent school-wide election.  The school-wide elections tend to be the best metric the Council has to gauge College-wide opinion and as representatives of the College as a whole, Council members strive to make decisions in accordance with the will of all members of the College of Arts & Sciences.  In July 2013, the College Council appointed Josh Myers to the Honor Committee, largely because he placed sixth in the most recent school wide election.  In 2011, the College Council took similar action in appointing Ann Marie McKenzie only hours before the Honor Committee retreat, during which she was elected Chair of the Honor Committee.  Please see this Cavalier Daily article for more information on the case from 2011, but keep in mind that it is an opinion article with a potentially misleading title. While waiting until after the retreat was a possibility, it would not have allowed for the College to be fully represented at the retreat and the Honor Committee greatly preferred the appointment be made before voting on its new executive board.

Members of Council deliberated carefully and constructively before making a decision, as is their task as members of the College governing body.  Our President, Henry Reynolds, consulted the Honor Committee about the appointment.  Given the timeframe, the process was not as transparent as we as a Council would have liked it to be, but it was much more so than in previous years.  Further, the Council asked for a Cavalier Daily article to be written about the process and deliberations to promote transparency.

Given the vote of the College as a whole, the opinions of members of the College Council, and numerous precedents from the past few years, the College Council decided to appoint Vendarryl Jenkins as a representative to the Honor Committee from the College of Arts & Sciences.

As the student governing body of the College of Arts & Sciences, the College Council is entrusted with managing the student side of the affairs of the College.  Members of the College Council did their best to make a decision that reflects the will of students in the College and is the best choice for the College and University as a whole.

 

Sincerely,

College Council