We want to applaud your diligence in discovering a typo on the Spring Associated Students Ballot and bringing it to our attention so it could be corrected, which Leg Council did indeed do at its April 16 meeting. However, the tone of your recent editorial (“Fuzzy Math,” Daily Nexus, April 17, 2003) reads like a personal vendetta that degenerated from commentary on the issue to playground name-calling.
First, A.S. did not “squander” anybody’s money. For years, A.S. and dozens of student organizations benefited from the profit on A.S. investments. Certainly, when we were riding the highs of the stock market we understood the risks and that we might suffer the consequences of a market decline. Beyond that, nobody on or off campus anticipated the criminality that would ultimately contribute to a severe slide in the stock market. Over the years, A.S. has received far more in interest payments than our original cash investments. So, rather than squandering student money, it appears we succeeded in raising additional money and in stretching student dollars for many years. You also stated that we have “continually asked students for more cash,” without clarifying that we have not had a ballot initiative pass and have not received any raise in student fee funding since 1972.
In your editorial, you made an assumption that Leggies didn’t understand the sliding-scale ballot measure, saying they were “fooled” and “incompetent” and generally questioning their intelligence. Quite to the contrary, Legislative Council completely understood and discussed the implications of the proposed change but was not vigilant enough in the proofreading of the ballot initiative. Even your own article attributed the discrepancy to a “typo,” which can happen to the best and brightest.
As for comments aimed at our executive director, Don Daves-Rougeaux, you state that he has a “vested interest” in the passage of the sliding-scale amendment. No A.S. staff members will personally gain from the passage of the amendment. Regardless of the sliding-scale amendment or any future A.S. base fee initiative, A.S. staff are bound by the same salary policies as the rest of the university and we face the same hiring freezes and salary cuts that are hitting every other campus department.
The editorial additionally stated that the sliding scale was Don’s “ugly baby,” when in fact the formula was not his creation but was created by the university long before Daves-Rougeaux assumed his position with A.S. The idea of aligning A.S.’ approval process with Campus Elections’ process has been discussed by A.S. for several years. The broader allegation that Don is manipulating Legislative Council should be an insult to all students who are capable of making their own decisions.
Overall, A.S. is coming out of four years with interim executive directors, which has been difficult for everyone. While it may be fair to blame A.S. for being inattentive to the details of the bill, the mistake was neither “moronic” nor due to “laziness and incompetence.” Should we expect our student government to be more careful in proofreading ballot initiatives? Yes, of course. Should we expect our student newspaper to hold student government accountable for its decisions and actions with facts and well-reasoned arguments rather than innuendo, name-calling and personal digs? Absolutely.
You did an admirable job in discovering the flaw, and its implications, in the ballot initiative. You had an opportunity to showcase the fundamental responsibility of a newspaper to hold governments accountable to their constituents. By stooping to innuendo and personal attacks, you squandered it.
Marilyn Dukes is the associate director of student programs for A.S., and Elizabeth Robinson is the associate director of media for A.S.