Hell hath no fury like grad students scorned.

Fed up with the way mandatory student fees are dumped on them, grad students are threatening to make this year’s campuswide elections worthless.

The way things are, no grad student could sign the petition that puts a new fee on the campuswide ballot, every grad student could vote against the fee and the fee could still pass. Things like that happen when you’ve got 17,000 undergrads and only 2,000 grad students, but the grads are convinced they get shafted (probably because they do get shafted).

Last spring, Gauchos voted to build the Student Resource Building at a cost of $33.33 per quarter. The Graduate Student Association complained bitterly that grad students would use only a third of the building’s resources and yet will be paying a full share for it. The university, after due deliberation, addressed the GSA’s concerns with the diplomatic equivalent of farting noises.

So the GSA decided to attack the election rules, demanding that any fee petition include signatures from 15 percent of grad students. The Chancellor, ever sensitive to the possibility of angry people writing him letters, formed an ad hoc committee to recommend changes to the election code for the 2002 election. The ad hoc committee said the grad students should get what they asked for.

The people who actually make the rules, however, sit on the Campus Elections Commission. The CEC has to make any changes to the rules before Winter Quarter, but the ad hoc committee didn’t give its recommendations to the CEC until three days before Dead Week (although what they were going to recommend was not a secret). The CEC can’t vote during Dead Week and said it didn’t have enough time to look over the changes, so better luck next year.

The GSA is not so patient. It’s threatening to withhold the official tally of grad student votes, which means this spring’s campuswide election couldn’t be validated and no new fees could be imposed – and this at a time when everyone is about to eat a budget cut. The GSA isn’t threatening to take its ball and go home; it’s threatening to take its ball and shove it up the university’s heinie.

Can the GSA do this? Well, they’re not supposed to, but they bloody well can. All in all, it’s an impressive display of smash-mouth politics at a university more prone to drooling than smashing.

One guy who’s definitely not impressed is Associate Dean of Students Joe Navarro. He’s a big advocate of building just about anything on campus that can be built. He sits on the CEC and used to be the advisor to the GSA. He quit advising the GSA this week and complained, more or less, that the GSA wants a veto over any new fees.

Navarro does not want to play by the GSA’s rules. It is hard to see how the GSA can get what it wants this year, but it can spike the campuswide election and infuriate the administration.

Let the knife fight begin.

-Brendan Buhler