Unless change is made, the ASUC’s party system will be its downfall

CAMPUS ISSUES: Personal attacks, threats and incivility have no place in a student government. The ASUC must do better

A person speaking to an audience with a screen that reads "ASUC Elections Tabulations Ceremony"
Alexander Hong/Staff

If there’s one thing UC Berkeley students should take away from the controversy surrounding the ASUC this week, it’s this: The party system just isn’t working.

This week, a unanimous decision from the ASUC Judicial Council disqualified all Student Action candidates from the 2019 election cycle — a decision that was immediately met with controversy and anger from many community members. But the party’s violation of several ASUC bylaws made the council’s decision final.

And though emotions were running high, it’s unacceptable that members of the ASUC have resorted to personal, unfair and unprofessional attacks to express that frustration.

In the past week, individuals from both Student Action and CalSERVE have weaponized their parties against each other through social media. The intense party antagonism that this recent controversy has generated has clearly caused numerous students to lose sight of why they were elected to the ASUC in the first place — to serve and to represent students.

This behavior hasn’t just been directed at party members. Members of the Judicial Council have been pressured and intimidated to reverse their ruling — an action that threatens the checks and balances in place to hold elected ASUC officials accountable.

The fact of the matter is that Student Action violated ASUC bylaws, and the party needs to face the consequences of its actions. Sure, it’s understandable that its recently elected executive and senate candidates — some of whom had nothing to do with the disqualifying censures that the party received — are angry with the council’s decision.

But the personal threats, attacks and downright incivility that have ensued on both sides of the aisle since the council’s decision was announced also jeopardize the existence of a functioning democracy. And at the heart of this is the ASUC’s party system.

Members of Student Action should have approached this decision with the professionalism and levelheadedness expected of elected officials — by appealing the decision and respectfully fighting for their right to representation. Quite frankly, it’s appalling that nine appointed members of the ASUC’s Judicial and Elections councils have felt forced to resign — because of the disrespect they’ve received from elected officials — since Wednesday.

And in the statement that CalSERVE released Tuesday, the party should have mentioned the danger of the council’s decision. While Student Action’s censures were deserved and lawful, the impact they will have on representation in the ASUC — representation that UC Berkeley students voted for — is nonetheless extreme.

Rather than engaging in an ongoing power struggle, Student Action and CalSERVE should work together and support one another. How can these candidates serve students if they’re merely engaging in petty fights?

While calling for the elimination of the party system may seem drastic, at the very least, it will remove the rivalry that has distracted ASUC officials from their responsibilities for too long.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.