ASSU To Vote on Ballot Access for New Constitution

Numerous former ASSU officials are now speaking out against the hurried process by which the newly proposed ASSU Constitution will be reviewed. At 9:30 PM on Monday evening, the Graduate Student Council and the Undergraduate Senate will meet jointly to discuss and vote on suggested revisions to the ASSU Constitution. The Governing Documents Commission, which included ASSU President Michael Cruz and ASSU Senator Alex Kindel, released the draft of a new ASSU constitution on February 26, 2012, which has given students and ASSU elected officials only three weeks to review the documents. If approved this evening, the new constitution would be placed on the ballot as an initiative for the entire student body to vote on in April.

Last week several recent ASSU Executives sent a letter to ASSU officials urging them to delay placing the constitutional revisions on the ballot for at least one more quarter. Chris Nguyen (BA ’07), who developed the most recent constitutional revisions in 2007, has led the effort to send another letter to the officials. Other prominent ASSU alumni have signed onto the new letter as well, including David Gobaud (BS ’10), Fagan Harris (BA ’09), Johnny Dorsey (BA ’09), Eric Osbourne (JD ’10), and Danny Arbeiter (BS ’08, MBA ’12). Currently, 34 ASSU senators, executives, and other officials from the past decade have signed the letter.

The open letter points out major flaws which have been discovered since the release of the document, including what they consider two serious ones:

  • “The rights of the accused section had been gutted in the original revision and had to be restored.”
  • “The revised Constitution inadvertently required Special Fee groups to petition twice to appear on the ballot if the Senate or GSC rejected their statement of purpose, and this provision had to be struck.”

The concerned students have also pointed out several other problem areas that they believe must be seriously reviewed before sending the document to the ballot. Some of these concerns include:

  • Declaring that university policy “shall take precedence” when it conflicts with ASSU policies. This would eliminate the role of the ASSU constitution as “a contract between the students and the administration of the University.”
  • The ASSU President would reside over the legislative branches and have the ability to sign legislation into law.
  • The role of the independent Nominations Commission would be eliminated and a legislative committee would be in charge of nominations.
  • ” The proposed revisions remove the strict requirements allowing representation of the student body on matters outside the university.  These requirements were created by a student initiative petition in the early 1990s.”
Constitutional Amendments require a 2/3 majority of students equaling at least 15% of the undergraduate student body and 15% of the graduate student body.
The concerned students close the letter with a final plea:
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These sweeping and fundamental changes to the Constitution require much thought and input, and three weeks (including Dead Week) is simply not enough time.  We urge you to not place these constitutional revisions on the Spring Quarter 2012 ballot.  Many of the changes are intentional but should have more time for discussion.  There are also many unintended consequences that could result from the proposed revisions, and more time is needed to review the revisions to catch these unintended consequences.
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