ASUC president issues emergency executive order to fill vacancies on Elections, Judicial councils

Daniela Cervantes/Staff

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ASUC President Alexander Wilfert issued an emergency executive order Friday afternoon in an attempt to quickly fill the vacancies brought about by a flurry of resignations from the Elections and Judicial councils — an incident that has thrown ASUC officials into turmoil.

During the ASUC Senate’s regular meeting Wednesday night, eight appointed officials — four each from the Elections Council and Judicial Council — resigned from their respective posts. Former justice Kiran Girish announced her resignation Thursday morning, bringing the total number of resigned officials to nine.

The resignations come amid a recent ruling from the Judicial Council that disqualified Student Action’s entire slate for the 2019 elections cycle — including the party’s 11 newly elected senators and three newly elected executives. The ruling is one of the Judicial Council’s most controversial yet — it has been met with applause from supporters and severe backlash from students alleging that the punishment does not fit the crime.

Under normal circumstances, the Governance and Internal Affairs Committee of the ASUC Senate is tasked with nominating members of the Judicial and Elections councils. Wilfert’s emergency order temporarily suspends the authority of the committee to do so and instead creates a special Senate Select Committee to appoint an “impartial” Elections Council and Judicial Council. The special committee will be disbanded by the ASUC Senate once it has fulfilled the duties with which it has been tasked.

The committee will consist of ASUC Senators Regina Kim, Imran Khan, Nikhil Harish and Amir Wright as well as Student Advocate Sophie Bandarkar, ASUC Chief Personnel Officer Ilene Kung and Graduate Assembly Internal Vice President Derek Schatz. Kim will chair the committee.

The Senate Select Committee will be responsible for reviewing and interviewing applicants for the vacant positions on the Elections and Judicial councils. Candidates selected by the Senate Select Committee will be nominated to the ASUC Senate for approval.

The emergency order suspends ASUC bylaws that require ASUC Judicial Council applications to be open for at least 10 days and Elections Council applications to be open for at least three weeks. Under the emergency order, each application will be open for three days in an attempt to fill the vacancies on both councils in a “more timely manner.”

Kung said the Judicial Council has already received four applications as of Friday afternoon.

The ASUC Executive and Appointed Officers Committee, consisting of the five ASUC executive officials and the five appointed officials, released a statement Friday afternoon affirming its support for Wilfert’s emergency order.

“The Executive and Appointed Officers Committee believes it is extremely important to take immediate action that will restore confidence in the ASUC’s institutional procedures and governing bodies,” the statement said. “We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure a resolution that preserves the ASUC’s institutional integrity and produces an outcome that is fair, legitimate and in the best interests of the UC Berkeley student body.”

Current ASUC senators will vote to permanently ratify Wilfert’s emergency order during a senate meeting April 24.

Given the Elections Council’s complex line of succession, Chief Legal Officer Claire Goudy is currently serving as the acting Elections Council chair, elections prosecutor and elections auditor — positions that were abandoned in the flurry of resignations Wednesday night.

At its regular meeting Friday afternoon, the Elections Council proposed a temporary rule to address the aftermath of Student Action’s disqualification.

The rule states that retabulation of votes from the 2019 ASUC elections will take place after pending cases have been resolved. Furthermore, certification of the results by the Elections Council will occur only after all cases have been concluded.

Senior staff writer Anjali Shrivastava contributed to this report.

Amber Tang is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ambertang_dc.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the temporary rule enacted by the Elections Council would either be approved or denied at the Judicial Council meeting April 22. In fact, the Judicial Council did not meet April 22, and the rule still awaits approval.