Last Monday, seven other students and I submitted a Petition for Consideration to the USAC Judicial Board. The petition asks the board to disqualify the Social Justice Referendum and set a date for a recall election for all contested candidates in the other week’s undergraduate elections.
The goal we seek to achieve is much more than the punishment of the candidates who broke the rules and the disqualification of the referendum. They and their supporters are not the true culprits; their transgressions are a product of our poorly regulated political environment.
Our grievances are mainly with the election board itself, with its inadequate and submissive sanctions toward repeated and substantial violations of the election code. The Social Justice Referendum exceeded their spending cap by about $6,600. They then flouted the election board’s sanction when the Westwood Village Entertainment Group promoted the referendum on Bruin Walk one day after the election board barred them from campaigning for the remainder of the voting period. The election board did nothing. “All complaints,” it wrote, “should have been filed prior to the conclusion of voting hours.” Such a requirement cannot be found in the election code.
Complaints were also filed against Bruins United for posting campaign materials inside an engineering building, and for accosting passersby and having them vote on their phones. The election board dismissed the first complaint because it too was filed after the voting period. For the second, they barred Bruins United from campaigning for two hours. Shubham Goel, on the other hand, was barred from campaigning for an hour for affixing his signboard to a lamp post with duct tape.
It was the election board, with its lenient and disproportionate sanctions, that failed to fulfill its sworn duty to enforce the code and maintain fair elections. Only an angel could be expected to walk the line with so much to gain and so little to lose in crossing it. Only a fool could be expected to have any confidence in such a system. No wonder we marvel when voter turnout exceeds 40 percent. The judicial board must take the election board to task and restore the student body’s confidence in the elections and the government they produce.
Some have expressed concern, even criticism, that members of Waves of Change and LET’S ACT! are petitioning against a referendum those parties supported. It is easy to cry foul on your adversaries, far harder on those you hold dear. Petitioners with such ties ought to be lauded for their principled and farsighted action. They realize that institutions and decrees set on dubious foundations quickly crumble. Only those based on by-the-book bedrock will be unshakeable.
Price is a second-year history student.