This post was updated April 10 at 12:13 p.m.
One of the oft-quoted aphorisms from the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden is, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
The undergraduate student government would do well to heed the words of UCLA’s patron saint.
The Undergraduate Students Association Council decided last week to allow students to vote in May whether they want to add a new council position to represent international students. Adding a USAC position is an involved process: Council members must first vote on an amendment to USAC’s governing constitution, and then add a ballot measure for students to vote on. Only after two-thirds of the students who participate in the election vote for the proposal is a new position added to the council table.
Creating a ballot measure can reasonably take several weeks of debate. But council members rushed through the process last week, resulting in a notable waste of students’ time. After three hours of debate, the council realized it hadn’t followed the proper procedure for proposing a constitutional amendment. USAC then adjourned for 15 minutes to coordinate a constitutional review of its proposal. Almost an hour later, it took a vote and added the amendment to the spring ballot.
Rushing through major decisions has been a recurring theme for this year’s USAC council. And doing so hampers council members’ decision-making abilities, forcing them to make choices without fully considering the effects or getting student feedback.
At the root of these rushed decisions is the council’s proclivity to procrastinate.
In October, the council made a haphazard attempt to amend the election code. Although the council’s bylaws state that it must appoint an election board chair before week one of fall quarter, USAC only brought forward a chair many weeks after.
This delayed the council’s appointment of election board members and eventually its approval of election code amendments. The council and the election board rattled through changes just three weeks ago during a six-hour meeting – changes that were so late the election board had to delay the deadline for candidates to formally declare their candidacy.
The council exhibited the same lack of urgency when proposing the international student representative position. The council was only able to solicit a handful of student voices in last week’s meeting, and council members cast half-baked votes in an effort to not spend hours debating on the ballot proposal.
Worst of all, students won’t even be able to vote for candidates for the position until 2019 should the ballot measure be approved – a delay USAC could have prevented if it knew about the measure well before, say, the start of winter quarter finals week.
Campus Events Commissioner Nedda Saidian put it succinctly: “I have felt in the past on this council … that I’ve been manipulated to make an informed vote that isn’t an informed vote.”
Rushed deliberations often result in ill-informed decisions. Sure, some might argue that the council should be flexible and act on its feet. But impulsiveness should never be mistaken for quick thinking – especially when student fees are at play.