I began this piece with daggers for the newspaper that you happen to be reading, but now that I have more information, I am writing to you to report a colossal fuck-up. Apparently, the version of the new A.S. Constitution that was unanimously approved by the Legislative Council on April 5 didn’t make it onto our current electronic ballot; we accidentally substituted an earlier draft version that has since been changed – yes, it was an accident, and yes, it has been corrected.
When I read that the constitution was strongly opposed, I was really pissed. We held a public convention. We went through about seven or eight drafts before arriving at a final consensus. We sent every new version to the Nexus so that we could address any concerns that the editorial board might have with the new document. It was through these conversations where certain editors asked us, “Why 50 percent plus one?” Our argument was, “The university administration can pass new student fees through Campus Elections Committee with a threshold of 50 percent plus one, why should it be more difficult for students to pass their own initiatives through a ballot process that closely mirrors that of our own local, state and national government? Shouldn’t the two ballots be equal? The California Legislature is empowered to place initiatives on the ballot with a vote of its membership. What makes us different?”
These same editors countered, “What makes you different is that we’re talking about the ability to authorize ballot measures by a vote of a dozen or so students. Your system is not the same as the Campus Elections Committee because you don’t require petitions.” I don’t personally agree. We have separate powers of electoral authority through initiative and legislative processes for a reason, but still, the point is conceded. Student fees are already really, really high. If we want to put new fees before the students, it is important that we make sure to get a sufficiently high level of student approval of said fees. With this in mind, we split our fee process into two separate categories: fee initiatives approved by legislative council and fee initiatives approved by qualifying petition.
Unfortunately, this was the major change in the proposed constitution that didn’t make it online. For all new fee initiatives approved by Leg Council, the required threshold is 60 percent. Those done through petition, and only those done through petition, require 50 percent plus one. Additionally, to further adjust the two ballot processes to parity, we have lowered the percentage necessary to get rid of a fee from 67 percent to 60 percent. This way, with the 60 percent threshold, it is just as easy to get rid of a fee as it is to pass it.
We acknowledge that writing a new constitution is a really big deal; we wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t think it absolutely necessary. As your out-going A.S. internal vice president, I can assure you that this document is designed to improve serious constitutional flaws in our student governmental structure, and not to screw non-A.S. involved students. We have been working on this since the summer before Fall Quarter and we would really appreciate your support in this endeavor to improve your Associated Students organization. If you have any questions about this whatsoever, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My door is open.
Adam Graff is a senior biology major and A.S. internal vice president.