There is an obvious inconsistency from year to year in the subjective interpretation of code. The question is whether there should be.
The interesting cases always arise when the political meets the judicial, and within this context let us consider the judicial party to be the four 20-something year old bushy-tailed individuals who have been appointed by councillors (last minute as always, is my guess), relying on partial evidence, but not obliged to follow any explicitly outlined procedure except for their own moral guidelines.
Of course, from year to year the Student Court anticipates being busy during this time of year, when candidates appeal the decision of the EA’s office, hoping their luck at a more “legal” or “official” body, traditionally consisting of students with at least some legal training.
Then there is the issue of whether or not AMS council, the highly political body, will decide to accept the appeals decision of the Student Court. It is in poor form not to do so, but as the archives are my witness, Council has overturned or rejected its rulings numerous times as it sees fit, at the moment’s political flavour at hand.
So, when we come back to the specific issue on slates and the recent disqualification of Mr Frederick, how robust should this interpretation of a code be from year to year? Should a candidate be “testing out” the mood of the EA, seeing what he or she can get away with?
Is campaigning alongside other candidates in the same room vehemently slate-like to one reasonable person, but a-ok with another?
Is the EA contradicting her own words when she disqualifies candidates who campaigned together in a cafeteria, but earlier allowed classroom announcements to be made together?
The subjective interpretation of reasonable standard becomes the gray zone in which the EA’s office enters the power play to make or break the political career of the candidates.
From year to year, this interpretation has differed. To quote Spencer Keys, father and founder of the post-slate era, the punitive measures on slate-oid activity has included:
“…in 2005 one candidate was found to have had his website registered and paid on the credit card of a candidate in another race. He got a 24hr campaign suspension.
In a more relevant example, despite lots of candidates doing speeches at the same time, it was ruled (if I recall correctly) that a line was crossed when one candidate told a classroom to "Vote progressive" when numerous candidates had explicitly identified themselves as "progressive." That person also received a campaign suspension (I think) but it hardly mattered anyway when they won by 500 votes. The first guy lost his position so it also didn't matter.”
Should there be a list of precedent rulings to be followed as general guidelines for the candidate’s sake, such that they know what is and is not considered slate-like behaviour? Keep in mind that these rulings themselves may have had their share of controversies, involving the Student Court and lateron Council.
Or perhaps in this post-slate era, there are very few people left who remember how blatantly obvious a slate was like, and the purpose behind banning them has reduced itself into a witch-hunt for even the most invisible alignments, friendships included?
It seems to me the EA’s were given no transition as to the intentions behind this particular section of code, and are now keen for the election to become so puritan to the point where a candidate should run in the other direction if someone else is postering on a prime location, or campaigning in the same cafeteria.
What a precedent.