Student government calls special election

Student body President Erin Devaney announced on Wednesday that a student special election will be held Nov. 28-30.


Students will be able to vote on as many as six amendments to the ASPSU constitution in the election online using the Banweb system. Several of the amendments are designed to provide oversight of the Student Fee Committee, which allocates over $8 million in student incidental fees to student groups, including athletics and the Vanguard.


There has been strong momentum for an election building for several weeks since student senators passed the six ASPSU constitutional amendments for Judicial Board review. Now that the election has been called, student senators have only 18 days to educate students and prepare them for the election.


“It’s completely up to the senators to do the campaigning,” Devaney said.

Passing the amendments and holding a special election before the end of fall term has been the main focus of the student senate and at times has been a highly contentious process. The senate has pushed for the special election so that the changes to the Student Fee Committee could occur before the committee begins deliberating on student group budgets during winter term. Student groups are currently in the process of creating their initial budgets for next year, which are due on Nov. 30.


Of the four amendments that passed with a two-thirds majority in the senate, three were approved by the Judicial Board and are guaranteed to be on the special elections ballot.


Initiative 02-SC restores the simple majority vote to the committee, allowing it to adjust the budget of existing programs by any amount with a simple majority vote during the fee allocation process. The initiative reverses a recent amendment to committee guidelines that mandated a three-quarters vote to adjust a group’s budget by more than 25 percent of the previous year’s budget.


Another amendment set to appear on the ballot, 03-SC, requires the committee to act on the recommendations of the senate within 10 business days and bring a new proposal before the senate. The amendment allows the senate to “deny any single item” of the recommended committee budget with a three-quarters majority. The amendment also requires the senate to publish its policies each year regarding the allocation of incidental fees.


The last amendment guaranteed to make the ballot at this point is 07A-SC, which would eliminate the appointment of the committee chair via general election. Instead, all eight committee members would be elected in the general election, with the committee selecting a chair from within their ranks.


Of the six amendments passed on to the Judicial Board for consideration, two failed to pass with the required two-thirds majority in the senate and are ineligible for placement on the special election ballot unless the signatures of 15 percent of the student body are collected.


The Judicial Board rejected the wording of 04A-SC, an amendment requiring signatures for placement on the ballot, effectively striking it down. The amendment would have required the committee to use “viewpoint neutrality” when deciding budgets. The Judicial Board disapproved of the use of “viewpoint neutrality,” recommending that the words be replaced with “objective.”


The other amendment that fell short of the two-thirds majority requirement, proposal 06-SC, was approved by the Board and could be placed on the ballot if 15 percent, or roughly 3,500 students, sign a petition. The proposed amendment would have added wording in the constitution’s preamble defining the promotion of student involvement and organization as a goal of the ASPSU.


“There are a couple different routes we can take [concerning the ineligible amendments]. They may be re-presented,” senate Pro Tempore Sarah Hendrickson said, adding that signature gathering is an unlikely solution.


The Judicial Board rejected proposed amendment 01A-SC due to inconsistencies it would create with the current language of the constitution. The amendment would limit the student body president, vice president and committee chair to one term, while restricting committee members and Judicial Board members to no more than two consecutive terms. The amendment puts no term limits on senators.



The amendments


Their goals

Their fates


Sets one-year term limits for the ASPSU president,

vice president, Student Fee Committee

chair, and two-year limits for SFC members and

Judicial Board members.


Currently these positions have no term limits,

so in theory, someone could hold an office for a

very long time. For example, former SFC Chair

Tracy Earll held her position for three years.



The Judicial Board disapproved of the wording

in this amendment because it may conflict with

other language already contained in the constitution.



Allows SFC to allocate funds to new programs

and adjust the budget of existing groups with a

simple majority vote.


Currently the SFC must have a 3/4 majority vote

to increase a student group’s budget by more

than 25 percent. This amendment would make it

much easier for groups to get large increases by

reducing the vote to a simple majority.



Students will have a chance to vote on this

amendment during the Nov. 28-30 special election.



Allows the student senate to reject any single

item in the SFC budget with a 3/4 majority vote.


Currently the student senate must either approve

or reject the entire SFC budget after it has

been submitted. This amendment would give the

senate much more power over the budget by allowing

it to reject specific groups’ budgets.



Students will have a chance to vote on this

amendment during the Nov. 28-30 special election.



Allows student groups to appeal to the student

Judicial Board if they believe their budget was

not evaluated in a “viewpoint neutral” manner

by the SFC.


The student senate is concerned that the SFC

has not evaluted all student group budgets in

a “viewpoint neutral” manner in the past. This

amendment sets up a process handling viewpoint

neutrality complaints.



The Judicial Board was concerned that the

“viewpoint neutral” clause may conflict with a

U.S. Supreme Court decision that defined viewpoint




Adds the clause, “To promote student involvement

in campus life and in the community, and

to support the success of student organizations”

to the preamble of the ASPSU constitution.


A “pro-student group” stance was a major pillar

of the Devaney/Woon slate’s campaign last year.

The slate now dominates the student senate.



Because it passed the student senate with less

than a 3/4 majority, this amendment now needs

signatures from 15 percent of the student body

to make the special election ballot.



Changes the process for selecting the SFC chair

so that the chair is appointed by the members

of the committee rather than elected by the

student body.


Currently the SFC chair is elected during the

March general election. This amendment would

allow students to vote on eight committee member

spots instead. Those eight members would

then elect the chair from within their ranks.


Students will have a chance to vote on this

amendment during the Nov. 28-30 special election.



Creates a process for the student Judicial Board

for handling any student complaints that a SFC

member did not maintain a “viewpoint neutral”


This amendment works in tandem with 2005-

04A-SC to create a process for students to have

recourse if they think their budget was mishandled

by the SFC


Because of concerns over “viewpoint neutral”

language in this amendment the senate sent it

back to a committee for further review.