ASUC Judicial Council overturns Elections Council decision, grants Transfer Coalition party status

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The ASUC Judicial Council unanimously overturned a decision by the ASUC Elections Council at its virtual meeting Saturday, granting party status to the Transfer Coalition in the 2020 election.

The decision, which occurred two days before the voting period began, was made too late for the voter guide to be edited but met the deadline for the ballot to be changed. This year, the only candidate affected was ASUC Senate hopeful Harmony Bulloch, who was originally listed as an independent but now will be listed under the Transfer Coalition party.

“We were really, really excited, especially at the prospect of a unanimous decision,” Bulloch said after the decision. “Moving forward, I hope we set this precedent on reclaiming the transfer identity as something that is not reliant on the ASUC. Future candidates will benefit from this decision.”

The Elections Council originally denied the Transfer Coalition’s application for party status because it felt the name was too close to the new Office of the Transfer Student Representative, a position in the ASUC that was created last year, according to Elections Council chair James Weichert.

Weichert said the Elections Council denied the request because the council felt it would give a candidate running for the transfer student representative position with the coalition an unfair advantage over those running independently or with a different party. He added that there was an “excessive entanglement” between the party name and the office.

Weichert defended the Elections Council’s decision at the meeting, while the Transfer Coalition was represented by the Elections Council’s public defender, Hannah Peters-Edwards.

At the meeting, Peters-Edwards argued that the reference to transfer students does not have one single definition, that the party was formed and registered as an on-campus club before the transfer representative position was formed and that the party was not given enough notice of the name denial before the final deadline to make any changes.

She also said because Bulloch is running for ASUC Senate and not transfer representative, the concern this year is irrelevant, in their opinion.

“It’s inconvenient because of the year’s work that they put in,” Peters-Edwards said at the meeting. “I really don’t think that we can judge what this is going to mean to every person. To see that subpopulation excluded as a political party, it doesn’t seem right.”

According to Weichert, the Elections Council must approve new parties before they can make endorsements, meaning it was not certain which positions the Transfer Coalition would nominate people for. He also said only new parties are approved by the Elections Council, so next year, the Transfer Coalition can endorse candidates in any race again, regardless of this year’s candidates.

The Judicial Council made a decision after more than an hour of negotiating during a closed session vote, ultimately voting in favor of the Transfer Coalition unanimously. For its final ruling, the council said it took into consideration the timeline of the Elections Council’s decision and the academic classification of the word “transfer” compared to the word “student,” which appears in the student advocate position title, as well as the names of approved parties such as Student Action and Students First.

Weichert declined to comment on the outcome of the case.

“Our work is getting started, as we’re updating Harmony’s campaign materials promptly to reflect this change,” said Transfer Coalition chair Alexander Alpi in an email. “Next year, we’re even more optimistic, as we now have provided the tools that future transfers can use to unite around and speak up for themselves. Transfer students have the ability to organize and advocate for themselves on campus, this decision affirms that.”

Kate Finman is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.