Each spring, the ASUC Senate votes to put a number of referendums on the election ballot. And each spring, there are constitutionally mandated deadlines set for the language of those referendums to be submitted prior to the election.
In this case, former ASUC president Connor Landgraf made an executive order to put the health and wellness referendum, which aimed to fund the establishment of new gyms and mental health services around campus by raising student fees, on the ballot. Landgraf’s March 24 executive order missed the constitutionally mandated deadline for using that method to submit a referendum by one week, putting the legislation on the ballot just 18 days before the election began. A petition was then filed against Landgraf’s order after the referendum had been voted on and the election had ended.
The deadlines restricting when legislation can be placed on the ballot exist so students are given enough time to review what they are voting on prior to the election. It is with this in mind that we support the ASUC Judicial Council’s decision to nullify the referendum.
We agree with Judicial Council’s reasoning that the use of an executive order needs to be the only way to solve a problem facing the student government. According to the council’s findings, Landgraf had a week to pass his language through the senate after receiving approval for it from UCOP but failed to complete this process in a timely manner.
No student on campus should be allowed to bypass the general procedure in order to place a referendum on the ballot simply because he or she missed a deadline. In this case, Landgraf’s use of the order was an overreach of authority.
According to ASUC bylaws, the president is only allowed to use the executive order if the action is “urgent and necessary to maintain the functioning of the A.S.U.C. until the Senate can again meet.” When Landgraf first issued this executive order, we were not convinced of its urgent necessity. We are still not convinced that the referendum’s goal — to reduce overcrowding of the RSF and increase health facilities — is vital to the immediate functioning of the student government.
Additionally, by missing the deadline, Landgraf gave students just two weeks before the election to review what the referendum entailed. If passed, the measure would have broad implications, increasing student fees by regular intervals until almost 2046, affecting generations of students for years to come.
If Landgraf had submitted the paperwork on time, more students might have had the chance to read the referendum’s language before voting on it.
The health and wellness referendum is a worthwhile cause and its future impact should not be discounted. The referendum should be reviewed again by the student body, and we appreciate that it has already been placed on the 2014 ballot to allow for that consideration ahead of time.
If Landgraf had followed the rules to get the referendum placed on the ballot on time and students still voted to support it, there would be no question about the legitimacy of that vote. The Judicial Council made the right choice.