Some Special Fee petitions going slowly; will the deadline be extended?

[![](http://blog.stanfordreview.org/content/images/2011/02/special-fee-extended-232x300.jpg "special fee extended")](http://blog.stanfordreview.org/content/images/2011/02/special-fee-extended.jpg)
Elections Commission flyer from 2009. Let's not jeopardize the integrity of the petition process again.
Six [online Special Fee petitions](http://petitions.stanford.edu/issues/special-fee-requests) appear to be well short of the required number of signatures, which in most cases is [695 undergrads](http://elections.stanford.edu/special-fees/). These groups may also be using paper petitions, in which case their online counts would understate their success. As of tonight at 9:15pm, the at-risk groups and their current signature counts are: [SIAS (Model UN)](http://petitions.stanford.edu/petitions/sias) (193); [Stanford Progressive](http://petitions.stanford.edu/petitions/progressive) (59); [Stanford Students in Entertainment](http://petitions.stanford.edu/petitions/sie) (130); [Stanford Film Society](http://petitions.stanford.edu/petitions/filmsociety) (112); [Stanford Journal of International Relations](http://petitions.stanford.edu/petitions/sjir) (152); and [The Claw Magazine](http://petitions.stanford.edu/petitions/the-claw) (199).

I’ve heard some Special Fee FOs are requesting that the petition deadline be extended. This happened in 2009, but as the 2010 Elections Commissioner I steadfastly refused to extend it (and everything turned out OK). The EC must remain neutral with regards to both Special Fee groups and students. This means defining the process in advance, letting it be known to all parties, and not changing the rules mid-game. Just as the EC shouldn’t consider ending petitions early if many groups were finishing their petitions faster than expected, the EC also shouldn’t extend the deadline if groups are doing poorly. The EC must respect the views of students who balk at group budgets and refuse to sign just as much as the EC respects the views of worried Special Fee group leaders.

Petitioning is a beneficial part of the Special Fees process even for Special Fee group leaders. An unusually lenient petition schedule means groups could get unpopular budgets placed on the ballot and then fail to get enough votes in the actual election. Groups, now and in the future, need the crucial feedback that the petitioning process is intended to provide.

While the EC must remain neutral, the Undergraduate Senate, as a political body, isn’t bound by the same requirement. By ASSU Joint Bylaws Appendix I, Section 6(B)2(c), quoted after the jump, the Senate can vote to place any Special Fee request, even one that hasn’t petitioned successfully, on the ballot. The EC must not risk its neutrality. If the deadline will be skirted, then let the Undergraduate Senate risk its reputation and exercise the powers granted to it.

c. A Special Fee request whose sponsor has not completed all the requirements specified in the Constitution, the Association By-Laws, the US By-Laws, the GSC By-Laws, the Special Charge of the Commission, and these Policies for placement and appearance on the ballot by the deadline indicated above shall appear on the Spring Quarter General Election ballot only if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

i. The relevant Association legislative bodies authorize such an appearance by approving a resolution specifying the extenuating circumstances by the procedures specified in the Constitution and their respective By-Laws, and the President of the Association approves this resolution.

ii. The student organization requesting the Special Fee agrees to pay for all costs associated with its appearance on the ballot, such costs to be determined by the Commission with the approval of the Financial Manager.

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