During last week’s ASUCR meeting on April 4, the ASUCR board approved, by majority vote, changes to the ASUCR Constitution, an ASPB referendum and a UCR Theatre referendum. All three items will be on the ballot in the upcoming elections. The constitutional changes would entail a restructuring of ASUCR’s elections process in which students would directly elect the executive branch and the senate. Currently, candidates run for one of the 20 senator spots and then internal elections are held among the newly elected senators to elect the new officers. However, Elections Chair Jonathan Mansoori claimed that it was the consensus among the student body that ASUCR needed a more democratic elections process.
If passed, the changes would require that candidates run directly for either an officer or senator position. A member of the executive cabinet could no longer also be a senator. The changes are modeled after the U.S. government’s three branches—executive, legislative and judiciary. Other UC student governments maintain this structure. “This way, all 3 branches can keep each other in check, which provides for more accountability and transparency,” stated Rachel Chieng, ASUCR Senate Chair.
Some ASUCR members, such as President Stephen Lee, expressed concern over the change to the constitution because of its radical alteration to the way the organization operates. Personnel Chair David Falstein claimed that the constitutional changes do not reflect the proper structure of the student senate.
Meanwhile, the ASPB referendum would increase student fees in phases of three years from the current $10 to $20 in 2012, $30 in 2015 and $40 in 2018. Also, 25 percent of the fee would be returned to financial aid to help offset costs for students who are eligible for financial aid ($2.50, $5.00 and $7.50 respectively based on the fee timeline).
According to the referendum, the revenue would help ASPB fund the Spring Splash and Block Party events by keeping the events free, securing better artists and enhancing interactive event attractions, providing major comedy shows, increasing movie premiers, hosting three or more major guest speakers a year and providing up to five times the amount of current funds available for student organization co-sponsorship. In addition, the money would be used to accommodate rising operational costs such as security and fences, TAPS and other event related costs.
The UCR department of theatre’s referendum proposes a student fee increase of $2.50 per quarter to subsidize the cost of undergraduate student admission to performances produced by the department. If passed, undergraduate students would be able to attend performances for free.
The next ASUCR Senate meeting will take place on April 18.