Before the books are even cracked on a new school year, a Special Campus Election has been put into place for fall quarter 2013. Announced school-wide via email on Sept. 26, an election solely devoted to the proposal of referendums and amendments to the Student Union Assembly (SUA) Constitution will be voted on from Nov. 20 to 26.
While elections are normally held during spring quarter of each school year, this Special Campus Election is featured during fall quarter due to a typographical error present in the 2013 spring quarter ballot, said SUA chair Shaz Umer.
“The reason it happened this time is because there was an error on the language,” Umer said. “I hope it doesn’t happen again.”
When the amendment to the SUA Constitution was proposed this past spring quarter, the ballot said that SUA had sponsored the amendment. However, the proposed amendment was approved by at least seven of the 10 college governments, not SUA, Umer said.
In order for an amendment to the SUA Constitution to be placed on the ballot, it has to be accompanied by a note of sponsorship, said assistant dean of students Lucy Rojas. Sponsorship can come from either seven out of 10 of the college governments, a two-thirds majority from SUA, or a petition proving 10 percent of the student population is in favor of the amendment.
The typographical error was made by the Dean of Student’s office when transcribing the amendment onto the ballot. The confusion arose due to the fact that the same amendment was on the ballot for Spring 2012, though on that particular ballot the amendment was sponsored by SUA, as opposed to being sponsored by the college governments in Spring 2013, Rojas said.
Though the amendment changes passed, a complaint was subsequently filed due to the error and Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway voided the results of the vote.
“It was just a very disappointing little typo,” said Commissioner of Academic Affairs Vanessa Morales.
This little typo ultimately affords UCSC students the opportunity to propose referendums and amendments which were not included in the Spring 2013 election. As well, this extra election serves as an expedited way to introduce new students to SUA and its election processes.
“This is a really great opportunity for new and incoming students to figure out what’s going on here on campus and kind of have their say right away,” Morales said. “Also, the fact that students can propose whatever they want. It’s up for everybody’s discussion at this point.”
Part of what makes this election special is it’s truncated timeline. With normally one election each year held during Spring quarter, the preparation for the Spring election begins in November, Morales said, allowing for several months to prepare proposals and referendums.
Mandatory orientations for all parties interested in the special election process are held on October 1 and 3, with the application for an amendment due on October 11. The voting will then begin on November 20 and conclude on November 26, leaving little over a month between the initial orientation and the voting itself. Morales said this shortened timeline changes the way in which proposals gain sponsorship and preparation for the voting process.
“It’s going to be a lot trickier without having the preparation history to propose anything,” Morales said. “We’re hoping it will be a good enough timeline to actually be helpful to other students.”
Currently, two measures are planned to be placed alongside the corrected Constitutional amendment, Umer said, one of which is Measure 53, authored by Umer. Originally placed on the ballot in Spring 2013 quarter, Measure 53 proposed a Slug Shuttle offering free shuttle service during the end of the quarter and holiday traffic. The shuttle takes UCSC undergraduate students to Diridon station and San Jose Mineta International Airport beginning Fall quarter 2013.
Measure 53 failed to pass, however, unable to meet the minimum threshold of 33 percent undergraduate students voting on the measure. Still, over half of those who voted on the measure voted “yes”, prompting Umer to believe a secondary vote is needed. Umer said he hopes that Measure 53 will be an incentive for students to vote.
“We’ll probably be stronger in the polls because we have a lot of new students,” Umer said. “In Spring everyone’s burnt out and a lot of people just don’t care and then you also have SUA politics tied into it. This years just ballots, it’s just the amendments, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the voter turnouts going to be.”
A new measure planned to be introduced to the Special Campus Election is the Twenty-Four Five Measure, Morales said. As the primary author on the measure, Morales works alongside Associate University Librarian Elizabeth Cowell to extend the hours of the Science and Engineering Library’s ground floor to 24 hours, five days a week.
Morales said there is a possibility, due to the shortened timeline of this election, the Twenty-Four Five Measure will be voted on in the Spring 2014 election.
“If anything, if it doesn’t work out for the really short timeline, it’s still in preparation for when it extends to the spring,” Morales said.
Though the timeline for the Special Campus election is short, Umer said he hopes the election will have a high voter turnout and shed light on the effectiveness of a fall election, generating a large amount of informed voters.
“Our priority is making students know that there’s an election, they know what’s on [the ballot], they have the information, the pros and cons of both sides, and they can make informed decisions,” Umer said. “Because if they cast their vote, that’s all that matters. Having them act as informed voters is very important.”