V.O.I.C.E. campaign will challenge executive order

Kevin Foote/Senior Staff
ASUC President Vishalli Loomba speaks at the senate meeting about her executive order voiding the V.O.I.C.E. initiative.

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The campaign manager for The Daily Californian’s fee initiative said Thursday that she will file charges against the executive order issued recently by ASUC President Vishalli Loomba that invalidated the initiative.

After meeting with former ASUC attorney general Kevin Gibson — who previously filed charges against former ASUC president Noah Stern for campaign violations — and the current solicitor general Erin Delaney, campaign manager Lynn Yu said she will file charges with the ASUC Judicial Council to overturn the order issued by Loomba on Wednesday morning. The ASUC Senate voted by a significant margin to uphold the order at its Wednesday meeting, but Yu said she thought the order was unconstitutional.

The V.O.I.C.E. Initiative would allocate around $93,800 — almost half the Daily Cal’s about $200,000 annual budget deficit — for the newspaper if passed by students.  At Wednesday’s senate meeting, Loomba said her executive order was enacted to stop a precedent of student fees going toward nonuniversity entities without proper policy in place. In the order, she referenced UC policy that does not allow for student fees to go toward nonuniversity organizations.

Without the student fee, the Daily Cal could cut more days of print, among making other possible cuts. Daily Cal Editor in Chief and President Tomer Ovadia said the paper is already pursuing many alternatives to increase funding but that the next fiscal year budget — dictating if more days of print will be cut —  will be made in May and June.

The initiative has been met with criticism from some members of the student body. Senior Andy Nevis said at Wednesday’s senate meeting that  he thought the executive order was “a good faith attempt to represent the fact that there is simply no way that this fee can be implemented in a way that is consistent with the UC guidelines.”

In addition to Loomba’s executive order, ASUC Attorney General Deepti Rajendran filed a charge sheet with the Judicial Council seeking to disqualify the initiative. Rajendran’s charge sheet cited similar concerns with the initiative as those cited by Loomba — that the Daily Cal is a nonuniversity entity that cannot be supported by student fees.

But in an email Thursday, Judicial Council chair Erica Furer said the council rejects the charges by Rajendran due to Loomba’s order, which she said “makes this case moot.” Both Loomba and Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab said they believed that the Judicial Council should hear the case.

Cooperative Movement Senator and presidential candidate Elliot Goldstein said in an email that he has been “extremely disappointed by the precedents that the Judicial Council has set in what I view as weakening its own powers to decide important matters.”

The council also will no longer hold a scheduled Friday hearing on alleged campaign violations due to a “settlement reached independently by the parties,” Furer said in an email. The charges were brought against the initiative’s campaign by CalTV Director of Business, Advertising and Marketing Elizabeth Kopaskie, who was acting in her individual capacity.

Many senators said at the Wednesday meeting that they wanted to work with the Daily Cal to establish a new fee initiative, and some suggested a special election for the Daily Cal in the fall, but Yu said that passing it then was unlikely.

According to ASUC bylaws, 20 percent of the student body needs to vote in order for a referendum to pass.

Ovadia said the newspaper was still considering the special election and that the “most unfortunate part is losing the chance to hear what students think.”

Chloe Hunt is the lead student government reporter.