Class Pass may not be placed on spring ballot after possible bylaw violation

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UPDATE: ASUC Attorney General Hinh Tran says he is currently looking into the avenues available to the ASUC to ensure that the constitutionality of these referenda are confirmed.

“There are no substantive concerns with the referenda being placed on the ballot, as I am sure few people would want to disallow the student body from having the opportunity to vote on these two extremely important issues,” Tran said in an email. “But I do understand that a few procedural concerns have been brought up.”

UC Berkeley students face the prospect of losing their bus passes next year due to a failure to submit the necessary referendum for the spring 2013 ballot.

The bill — which was authored by ASUC President Connor Landgraf — was voted on by the ASUC Senate at Wednesday’s meeting. However, according to ASUC bylaws, any referendum for the ballot must be voted on by the end of the candidate-filing period — which was Tuesday.

The Class Pass Referendum would extend the campus’ contract with AC Transit for seven years. Without this, students will lose unlimited access on AC Transit and campus shuttles, including the night safety shuttle.

ASUC Senator Mihir Deo and former ASUC senator Noah Ickowitz raised the deadline issue during the Wednesday night meeting. The ASUC attorney general, whose duties include approving the referendums and initiatives for the ballot, was not available for comment at this time.

Another referendum, the Health and Wellness Referendum , which asks students to vote on whether or not to finance construction and operation of the Wellness Center and the new Memorial Stadium Fitness Center, was also intended for an ASUC Senate vote during the Wednesday night meeting. However, Deo called attention to the issue with the bylaws before this vote could take place, and as a result, the bill — also authored by Landgraf — may not appear on the ballot as well.

Landgraf could not be reached for comment. Senators said it was unclear whether Landgraf was aware that he had missed the deadline to submit the referendums.

ASUC Senator George Kadifa said that one option might be for Landgraf to issue an executive order to place it on the ballot. According to the ASUC Constitution, executive orders can only be issued when such a mandate is needed to maintain the functioning of the ASUC until the senate can meet again.

Kadifa added that without placing either referendum on the ballot, the Health and Wellness program would most likely be delayed by a year.

According to ASUC Senator Daley Vertiz, Landgraf submitted both referendums to the UC Office of the President at the same time. Vertiz said that Landgraf wanted to bring them both to the senate at the same time, which caused the delay.

“There was a lot of frustration and a lot of confusion … over why the deadline would be missed,” Vertiz said of the senate’s immediate reaction. He added that having the Class Pass is a priority because students directly depend on the service provided.

The Class Pass referendum was also on the spring 2012 ballot, one year earlier than necessary, in order to ensure that the contract with AC Transit could continue. However, due to misprints in the election guidebook, the referendum was invalidated.

Although it is unclear what steps will be taken next, some senators speculated that Landgraf’s only option will be to issue an executive order to get the bill placed on the ballot.

“We cannot compromise on getting students access to public transit,” Vertiz said. “The executive order might be only way to get it on the ballot.”

Contact Chloe Hunt and Sara Grossman at [email protected]