Judicial Council rules in favor of V.O.I.C.E Intiative

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Despite multiple charges filed against the V.O.I.C.E. Initiative, the ASUC Judicial Council ruled Friday that they would not disqualify the referendum, citing insubstantial evidence.

The charges — the first filed by ASUC President Vishalli Loomba and ASUC Attorney General Deepti Rajendran, and another filed by former CalTV Co-Executive Director Myles Moscato  — asked the council to disqualify the referendum because of alleged violations of ASUC policy.

In the summary judgement, the council “rules that there is not sufficient statutory basis to order the disqualification of the V.O.I.C.E Referendum.”

The initiative asked students to support The Daily Californian through a $2 per semester student fee and was announced to have passed in the ASUC general election on April 24, with 5,977 students voting in favor and 4,054 students voting to not support the fee.

The referendum was invalidated on the 2012 ASUC general election ballot when Loomba issued an executive order on the second day of the election after concerns over the legality of the fee arose from the fact that no memorandum of understanding had been drafted prior to the election. The MOU would allow the Daily Cal, an independent organization, to receive funds from a student fee referendum.

Loomba said that allowing an independent organization to put a referendum on the ballot without negotiating a MOU before the election would set a bad precedent on a UC systemwide level by allowing campus funds to be transferred to noncampus entities.

“This is about the violation of policy and the lack of transparency and disclosure of information to the student body at large,” Loomba said at a senate meeting the night after issuing the executive order.

The executive order was later overturned on April 24 by the Judicial Council. Afterward, Loomba and Rajendran filed new charges against the referendum alleging the initiative violated policies of the ASUC, which were accepted by the council.

Moscato’s charges alleged that campaign violations committed by the V.O.I.C.E. campaign had gone unpunished, as well as similar violations of ASUC and university policies regarding campus-based student fees as those in Loomba’s charge sheet.

The council stated in their ruling that V.O.I.C.E. campaign manager Lynn Yu had, through email correspondances with liaisons with the UC Office of the President, found “an appropriate method had been discovered to resolve policy ambiguities.”

“There are many other things wrong with V.O.I.C.E. aside from its legality,” Moscato said in a statement issued after the council’s final ruling was announced. “The way this debate has been handled by our elected representatives and members of the Daily Californian has made me ashamed to be a part of this university.”

ASUC Solicitor General Erin Delaney said that the council’s ruling is “pretty incontestable,” at this point in the semester. Delaney added that the council’s suggestion to rewrite the ASUC bylaws concerning the referendum process was another positive outcome of their ruling.

“Anything that gets the bylaws rewritten is something we should all be happy about,” Delaney said. “The ASUC bylaws are notorious for being impossible to understand.”

Yu said that the council’s decision was a “perfect, fitting ending to what’s been one hell of a ride.” Yu said that the next steps will be getting the fee officially approved by the Chancellor and UCOP, once the Judicial Council certifies the votes, and then working with campus Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Erin Gore to get the fee placed on students’ CARS bills for this fall.

“We hope that moving forward, everything will be as smooth as everyone expected it to be in the first place,” Yu said.

Read the full text of the summary judgement below:

Adelyn Baxter is the news editor.