ASUC Senate Restricts Voting Rights Of Executives

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The ASUC Senate, for the second time during the academic year, overrode a presidential veto Wednesday, limiting the sway ASUC executives have on finances.

The bill, by amending ASUC bylaws, takes away the voting privilege of the president and executive vice president, thereby making them nonvoting members of the Finance Committee.

The committee allocates money to student groups and works primarily with money from student fees. It controls a nearly $2 million budget.

Supporters of the bill say it will reform the student government from the inside.

"It makes the government more efficient and protects against corruption," said Berkeley College Republicans Senator James Gallagher, the author and sponsor of the bill.

He cited consistency as one of the reasons for the bylaw change, as the finance committee is the only committee in which executives have voting rights.

"When I was going through the bylaws, it just didn't make sense to me why 'execs' voted on this committee and not on others," Gallagher said.

Opponents, on the other hand, said the senate ignored student body opinion because a referendum on last year's ballot, which would also have taken away voting rights from the president and executive vice president, did not get a majority vote from students.

Student Action Senator Tony Falcone said the bill is not an important issue for the student body.

"I think the reforms we should really focus on are things that substantially affect our student body and make student life better," Falcone said. "I don't think this reform does that."

While critics also said the bill was unconstitutional and unnecessary, those in favor say any reform would eventually benefit students.

"If it's straightening out the ASUC and restoring consistency, I think it will benefit students down the line," said Walking Walrus Senator Anand Upadhye.

ASUC President Wally Adeyemo defended his decision to veto the bill and said he would be taking it to the Judicial Council because he feels it is unconstitutional.

Adeyemo said the voting privilege granted to executives ensured fairness within Senate decisions.

"The most important thing is a mixture of powers because it ensures checks and balances," he said.

Gallagher said he was confident the bill would pass through the judicial council because it is constitutional. He also criticized Adeyemo's action as an attempt to "derail another good reform bill."

"I don't understand why every time we try to pass reform, we get this sort of reaction from the 'execs,'" he said.

The confusion over the bill stems from a change in the ASUC constitution that no one can quite explain.

In 1962, the constitution explicitly stated the president and executive vice president had voting powers within the financial committee. The current constitution, however, merely states that executives are on the financial committee and does not address voting powers.

"It's unclear when and how this change occurred," said former Attorney General Bret Heilig.

If it can be proven the change was through a referendum, then the bylaw change is constitutional. But that would require going through all the ASUC Senate minutes since 1962, Heilig said.

"Anyone who says that they know whether or not it is constitutional is playing politics," Heilig said.

The bill is expected to take effect at the start of next semester.


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