After a long night of debate at the Jan. 22 ASUCR senate meeting, senators unanimously ratified the new 2013-14 Elections Code, which aims to establish fair competitions in future general elections. The climax of the night’s discussion encompassed the removal of an election mandate that required a two-thirds majority of the voters to approve a constitutional amendment if and only if at least 20 percent of the student population participated in the voting. During the meeting, senators also passed a resolution which condemned a racial hate crime that happened at San Jose State University.
Elections Director Chris Sanchez went over point-by-point all the changes that had been made in the new Elections Code. Some notable changes included the addition of a preamble section in the Elections Code, an increase in CNAS and BCOE senator-candidates’ required nomination signatures from 25 to 50, a decrease in the party candidacy requirement from seven to three people to increase the number of political parties and deregulations on gifts given by lobbyists.
Sanchez recognized that the legitimacy of gift-giving during the campaign season could be a highly controversial and sensitive topic. Election candidates are required to reveal the amount of money they spend, but Sanchez said they could easily lie about their expenditures and the amount of gifts that they passed out; he encouraged senators and executive cabinet members to brainstorm methods to regulate gifts given out during campaigns and to further amend this section of the Elections Code.
“This (gift giving policy) has been worked on very, very thoroughly by the elections committee, and has spurred the idea of reaching out to other UCs to see how they did it,” said Sanchez. “But ultimately, we found out that other UCs … (also) have no effective way of controlling it.” Sanchez encouraged the senate to think of alternative solutions in the future.
One point under the eligibility requirement section of the new Elections Code was struck out with unanimous approval by the senate. The point concerns the role of the judicial branch in approving or disapproving ineligible individuals who wish to run in the election but do not meet the GPA requirement or are not in good standing with the university. Members of the judicial branch did not desire to play a role in approving candidates as they believed many complications would follow if the judicial branch made decisions contrary to the elections committee.
Senators Nafi Karim and Abraham Galvan questioned the removal of a portion of the Constitutional Amendments section, which stated that two-thirds of the voters from 20 percent of the student population need to approve an amendment for it to be adopted into the constitution.
Sanchez explained that the removed statement was contradictory to the constitution, which does not require 20 percent of the student population to vote for the approval of an amendment, but rather, only a two-thirds majority of the voting population to approve the adoption of the amendment. Additionally, the removed statement was found to originate from an unknown source.
“It wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place, and it was never enforced,” said Sanchez. “How that part gets into the Elections Code seems strange. We checked thoroughly into the minutes of past ASUCR meetings, and all the things that were passed, and we couldn’t find it anywhere, where that part was added into the Elections Code. Thus, (it is) making us believe that maybe someone who was drafting the Elections Code accidentally added it without it having ever been approved.”
After learning the context of the removed portion, Galvan expressed that he still believed the removed statement brought up a good point in making sure that one student cannot drastically amend the constitution over one election.
“The reason why there is that (requirement for) 20 percent of the student to vote is that we want to make sure that our student body agrees with the working of the government,” expressed Galvan. “If only 5 percent of the student population vote, then it’s not reflective of the student population.”
Galvan and Karim proposed to re-incorporate the removed part of the Elections Code. The motion, however, did not pass, as seven senators opposed the motion and three abstained. Therefore, the removed portion remained out of the code.
After the meeting, Galvan expressed his disappointment in the failure of his motion’s passage in an interview, stating, “People elected us to have discussion, people didn’t elect us to just be there for an hour. If we spent another 30 minutes to get people’s concerns out, it could have brought a healthy discussion … It is unfortunate to hear anyone mentioning comments like, ‘Hurry, let’s finish up,’ during the meeting.”
Following the passage of 2014 Elections Code with amendments, President Pro Tempore Aaron Johnson carried on the agenda by presenting a resolution entitled A Bill in Solidarity with the Demands of Black Student Activists at San Jose State University.
The resolution described a first-year black student studying at SJSU who was bullied by his white suitemates who repeatedly antagonized him through various acts, including calling him racist names, attempting to lock a bicycle lock around his neck and posting a Confederate flag in the common area. The names of the victim and suitemates were not publicly available, due to privacy concerns.
Senators pledged to stand in solidarity with the black community at SJSU, demanding the university address the issue of racial discrimination and harassment and exercise zero tolerance for such actions, according to the resolution.
With one accord, all senators passed the resolution without further ado.
Contributions made by Aaron Grech
– Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) representative Greg Artman discussed the potential for an on-campus parking fee increase with senators.
– Vice President of Internal Affairs Johnny Ta announced that 24 food trucks will be joining UCR’s Second Annual Food Truck Festival, which will take place on April 16.
– BCOE Senator Jessica Moncayo invited everyone to participate in the Athletics Tailgate Party to get to know UCR’s student athletes. The event will take place on Feb. 8 at Lot 19.