Student Action has been disqualified not 1, but 3 times

A room with many chairs and a screen that reads "2019 ASUC Elections Tabulations Ceremony".
Amanda Ramirez /File

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With all 14 of Student Action’s newly elected candidates disqualified after a unanimous ASUC Judicial Council ruling Tuesday, many students are wondering what will come next.

The Judicial Council disqualified all of Student Action’s elected candidates — three executives and 11 senators — after the party received five censures, two for sending spam emails and three more for failing to report expenditures from reserves.

Student Action has since put out a statement condemning the Judicial Council’s ruling and criticizing the council’s “unprofessional and unethical conduct.” The party further reaffirmed its commitment to “every possible avenue for recourse.”

This is not the first time, however, that Student Action’s slate has been disqualified — it is the third.

Student Action’s first disqualification occurred during the 2001 ASUC election, which some officials said nearly destroyed the student government.

In 2001, then-ASUC president Teddy Liaw attempted to illegally change ASUC election rules the day before ballots were cast, but was overruled by the Judicial Council for trying to prevent Student Action candidates from being thrown out of the election.

The debacle came to a head just hours before the election began when the Judicial Council disqualified Student Action’s entire slate of 16 candidates. The situation escalated and campaign officials filed multiple lawsuits against the ASUC in the Alameda County Superior Court.

After several Judicial Council members resigned and many major candidates were disqualified, the ruling was overturned and Student Action’s candidates were reinstated. The following year, ASUC election laws were changed to improve the campaign violation process by increasing the threshold for disqualification from three censures to five.

The ASUC also incorporated a tiered censure structure to match violations to a predetermined number of censures. The new laws were implemented to prevent a situation similar to the 2001 incident from occurring again.

But five years later, that is exactly what happened.

In 2006, Student Action’s entire executive slate was disqualified just three weeks after the ASUC elections when the Judicial Council determined that Student Action’s party chair and executive candidates had given false testimony and obstructed justice in previous hearings. Each candidate received a total of 18 censures.

While the results were still in limbo, then-ASUC president Manny Buenrostro issued an executive order reinstating the four disqualified Student Action executive candidates.

After the order, then-Student Action presidential candidate Oren Gabriel issued two additional executive orders to fill cabinet staff positions. He also turned to the Alameda County Superior Court, but the court sent the dispute back to the ASUC Judicial Council and Gabriel was later instated as president.

Student Action’s slate has not been disqualified since 2006. In the following years, CalSERVE and Student Action both suffered close calls due to their practice of gathering evidence about each other’s alleged campaign violations and mutually dropping the charges to avoid disqualification.

The practice notably caused trouble in 2010, when representatives from both parties formally met with photo, video and testimonial evidence that could have disqualified the entire Student Action party and three candidates from CalSERVE. After discussing the violations, representatives signed an agreement forbidding the two parties from charging each other’s candidates.

The pact came to an end in 2013 when both CalSERVE and Student Action declared their intent to stop the practice of dropping charges against each other in an effort to hold their candidates more accountable to ASUC bylaws.

Students are now looking to the precedents set by these past cases to predict what could happen in this year’s election. The Elections Council traditionally announces the official ASUC Senate and executives for the upcoming year at its regular Friday meeting.

Contact Maya Eliahou at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MayaEliahou.