Joe Binkley was researching University of Tennessee policies as part of his doctoral thesis when he came across a little known school policy. Passed in 1911, the rediscovered policy allows for University presidents to be recalled if the signatures of at least 32 students can be collected and submitted to the school’s Board of Special Elections.
Armed with this new information, Binkley set out with a notepad and circulated it around the tables in his study room at the Hodges Library. Within a few minutes, he had collected the necessary 32 signatures.
“I was surprised how willing people were to sign the petition,” he explained. “At first people thought I was totally yanking their chains, but I carried a copy of the policy along, and after they read that they signed right away.”
David Bangkok, the current UT Board of Special Elections, was surprised to receive the petition. “Well, when the VP appointed me to the Board of Special Elections six years ago, I was happy to oblige but had no idea what I was supposed to do. That continued up until Mr. Binkley brought me that petition and the light just came on. I sprang into action immediately, what with all the mess going on with the university right now.”
Bangkok and Binkley, armed with the petition and the little-known policy, announced the scheduled special election in the Daily Beacon two weeks ago. They set a Saturday-deadline for candidates to submit paperwork. Candidates must submit their paperwork along with 12 signatures and $3500 to the Office of Special Elections in order to secure a spot on the ballot.
The current president’s office, after the shock wore off, announced they were challenging the policy. They also blamed right-wing students of forcing their agenda and trying to steal control of the university. However, Binkley, according to a statement, has never actually voted in a real election and remains politically “neutral.”
The special election, to be held on the 15th of next month, will be going ahead as scheduled, assuming the president’s office is not able to block it.
So far, the field of candidates has been very diverse, with no end in sight to the list of those willing to throw their hat in the ring. Gary Coleman, better known for his role in the 1970s television show “Different Strokes,” is rumored to be the front runner. Other candidates, including Al Sharpton, Al Gore, Saddam Hussein, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steve Dupree, and Victor Ashe, are lagging behind Coleman by a margin of at least two percentage points.
Rumors have it that Brehd Patchley may enter the race. If that happens, according to analysts, he may emerge as the front runner. Gary Coleman, upon hearing Mr. Patchley may file his papers, said, “I wasn’t really serious signing up to run, but it sounded like fun at the time. If Brehd runs, I’ll actually vote for him.” Mr. Patchley’s campaign advisors had no comment.