ASUC Senators Jorge Pacheco and Mihir Deo filed charges Tuesday that may nullify the health and wellness referendum that was on this year’s ASUC election ballot.
ASUC President Connor Landgraf placed the referendum — which, if passed, would finance a new Wellness Center along with a new Memorial Stadium Fitness Center — on the ballot via executive order. The charge, filed by senators who allege that Landgraf’s executive order was not constitutional, aims to place a preliminary injunction on the referendum.
The injunction would suspend the release of the referendum results until the ASUC Judicial Council resolves the matter and would seek to nullify Landgraf’s executive order that placed the referendum on the ballot, Pacheco said. Because results of the election are contingent on the outcome of the hearing, the petition also calls for an expedited hearing.
Landgraf, however, contends that the executive order was necessary for the referendum to let students “have a voice in the democratic process.” Landgraf utilized the executive order after the referendums were submitted too late for the ASUC Senate to vote to place them on the ballot by the filing deadline.
The charge states that placing the referendum through executive order on the ballot was not “necessary to maintain the functioning of the ASUC until the Senate can again meet,” a requirement for executive orders set in the ASUC Constitution.
Deo said he did not file charges against the Class Pass referendum — which was similarly placed on the ballot by executive order — because he said he believes that referendum was “necessary for students, whereas creating a new gym is not something of urgent need.”
ASUC Attorney General Hinh Tran, who will be representing Landgraf in the hearing, said he disagreed with Deo in the interpretation of the executive order’s constitutionality.
“I think the constitution defines it broadly in order for the executive order to be used in a variety of unpredictable situations,” Tran said. “It is, to a degree, intentionally vague.”
Additionally, UC Berkeley senior and campaign manager for the referendum Conner Nannini expressed concerned about how the charges may affect student needs by not updating recreational facilities.
“(The RSF’s) facilities don’t serve disabled students, and there are only two machines that someone in a wheelchair can use,” Nannini said. “A consulting firm did an audit of the RSF and found that it only meets 33 to 50 percent of student demand. Facilities and group exercise classes are overcrowded and often oversubscribed.”
Nannini opposed the charge, contending that nullifying the referendum would be unfair because “it eliminates choice from Berkeley’s student population.”
Deo, on the other hand, added that regardless of the charge’s result, he hoped the senate would look into a revision of the constitution for the next senate term to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.
Contact Yvonne Ng at [email protected].
A previous version of this article may have implied that it was the ASUC Senate’s fault that the Class Pass and the Health and Wellness referendums were not voted on in time for the filing deadline. In fact, the referendums were submitted too late for the senate to meet the filing deadline.