Chief Justice Irene Nguyen of the Student Judicial Board issued the majority opinion in the case of Lipkin and Huddy v. Roth in a statement that said Roth had legal authority to make changes to the Office Space Allocation Committee guidelines.
Petitioners Boris Lipkin and Addison Huddy alleged that Undergraduate Students Association Facilities Commissioner Galen Roth violated USAC bylaws when she proposed Office Space Allocation Committee guideline changes ““ which were approved ““ to council.
Nguyen, Associate Chief Justice Michael Kelso and Justice Brittani Yriarte signed the opinion. Justice Amir P. Goodarzi-Panah added a concurring opinion, agreeing with the board’s overall decision but adding his own reasoning that differed from the board’s.
The petitioners had argued that Roth had acted outside her jurisdiction as facilities commissioner when she proposed the changes. The judicial board agreed that changes made by a member of USAC were illegal.
The board added, however, that Roth’s position as a member of the Constitutional Review Committee allows her to make such changes, and therefore she was not at fault for doing so.
The opinion stressed that Roth “is not and cannot be a member of OSAC,” due to her position as an elected official.
OSAC is considered to be an independent and nonpartisan committee, whereas the CRC is bipartisan.
Roth had argued that her actions were legal because previous bylaws had allowed the facilities commissioner to chair OSAC.
The new bylaw changes that ban elected officials from serving on OSAC were approved by last year’s student council and had not yet been posted on the Web site and “were in an inaccessible, obscure place,” according to the opinion.
Nguyen said in the statement that “the Judicial Board cannot reprimand (Roth) for not knowing these changes.”
Roth had further argued that the changes were proposed in order to make the OSAC process transparent for student groups. The board ruled that “Roth never presented the changes in bad faith,” in response to a charge by the petitioners.
The ruling also called for an operational OSAC in order to avoid similar disputes in the future.
“The Judicial Board believes this case may have been averted if there was an OSAC and thus would like to see a fully functioning OSAC so that it can carry on with its duties,” the statement reads.
This is to avoid situations in the future where a member of CRC could potentially affect USAC guidelines. USAC President Homaira Hosseini said that the description of OSAC chair was not completed at the time when the case was filed.
“I felt uncomfortable assigning someone to a position without a concrete description of what the position entails,” Hosseini said.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Goodarzi-Panah disagreed with the board that the bylaw changes from the 2006-2007 student council that were presented to USAC this year by Student Union Director Roy Champawat were valid at the time the charges against Roth were filed.
Goodarzi-Panah wrote separately that because the updated bylaws were not available to the public, as they were outdated on the USAC Web site, this year’s council was operating under the bylaws passed and approved in 2005.
Only after this year’s council had voted and reaffirmed previous bylaw changes could these changes take effect.
“It was after this vote of reaffirmation that council could enforce (previous) changes because the bylaws document had been updated to reflect the changes,” Goodarzi-Panah said in a concurring statement.