Amendments Await Another Day

Claudia cheffs | Staff Photographer Grace Poon, a third-year economics major who was running against Jun Wang for the role of Vice President of Student Services, campaigns with the help of some friends on Ring Road, passing out personalized water bottles to encourage people to vote.

Claudia cheffs | Staff Photographer
Grace Poon, a third-year economics major who was running against Jun Wang for the role of Vice President of Student Services, campaigns with the help of some friends on Ring Road, passing out personalized water bottles to encourage people to vote.

As of Friday, April 2, the Associated Student Body at UC Irvine (ASUCI) Judicial Board had issued a preliminary restraining order on the ASUCI Constitutional Amendments appearing on the Spring 2010 election ballots. The ruling aimed at preventing the constitutional amendments from appearing on the ballot because Article X of the ASUCI Constitution, which requires that the full text of the Amendments be published in various student media the week preceding the election, which Judicial Board said did not happen.

The new Amendments were intended to be the first major change to the ASUCI Constitution in over 40 years and while both the executive and judicial bodies of ASUCI agreed that the Constitution needs to be altered, the main problem this year was the issue of timeliness.

The Constitutional changes consist of some minutiae like wording changes, such as “Student Senate” replacing “Legislative Council.” However, it also lowers the percentage of approval needed to pass legislation through Legislative Council and lowered some of the powers of Judicial Board.

This included the finality of Judicial Board decisions mentioned in Article VI, Section B, judging the actions of the Executive or Legislative branches as to its constitutionality and upholding the rights of those in accordance with the ASUCI Constitution.

According to Judicial Board Chair Jeremy Dircks, the full text of the amendments were not adequately available to the student body and the proposal was only available to students prior to this week on Facebook and a link on a subsidiary page of the ASUCI Web site, not in the student media as required.

Braun had been under the impression that Judicial Board needed to approve of the Amendments prior to it being printed in the student media. This, Braun said, was a misunderstanding and happened primarily due to the fact that it had been so long since the last constitutional change that there was no recent procedural model.

“In the long run,” Braun said, “the Constitution is very important and I take full responsibility for it not being able to reach the elections this year.”

Even if the Amendments had been printed early enough to meet legislation requirements, they would not have passed due to low voter turn-out. According to election guidelines, the Amendments would have needed at least 5,000 votes in order to pass and Braun said that less than 3,000 students voted in total, preventing any legislation from going through.

Another piece of legislation that was affected by the lack of voting was the New University Fund, a measure that would have added $2 per quarter to each student’s Student Fees to ensure funding of the New University of print issues.

Although Braun wanted to clarify that she did not blame the individual candidates for the low number of student voters, she said that because there were not a lot of candidates running, competition was low and campaigning was not nearly as active on Ring Road as it has been in years past. Many ASUCI positions had very few candidates running for them and others were uncontested altogether, leading to many students not voting at all.

Both Dircks and Braun suspect that the Constitution will be amended soon, but perhaps not in the way that it was intended in this past election’s proposed amendments.

According to Dircks, while Judicial Board’s main reason for suspending the Amendments was because of election guidelines, they also disagreed with them.
Although Braun claimed that her two primary goals for the Amendments were efficiency and accountability by adding the possibility for impeachment for ASUCI officials, Dircks argued that she also would have removed a lot of power held by Judicial Board, including their power of judicial review.

“We are trying to keep ASUCI accountable,” Dircks said. “That is Judicial Board’s job, but there is a lot of the sentiment that we are going about it in the wrong way.”