Senate Continues Work on Elections Code Reform

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Gwendolyn Wu
AS Beat Reporter

The final meeting of the quarter for the Associated Students Senate stretched past 3 AM, as senators made amendments page by page to AS Legal Code. The final leg of the 2015-2016 elections code reform revamped the status of political parties year-round, effective immediately for the spring 2016 election season.

On Sept. 30, On-Campus Senator Nawar Nemeh and College of Letters & Science Senator Stevan Abdalmalik presented a series of elections code reform bills that intended to rehaul a substantial part of the campaign process. Some of the topics covered included hazing, funding and independent candidacy. All passed except a bill to reform political parties by housing them officially within the Office of Student Life.

In recent weeks, Nemeh, Abdalmalik and College of Letters & Science Senator Ashcon Minoiefar have introduced bills to rehaul elections code. At the Nov. 18 meeting, Nemeh and Abdalmalik introduced A Bill to Redefine Political Parties within ASUCSB, a rewrite of the bill that had previously been indefinitely tabled, or ‘killed’ at Senate. On Nov. 4, Minoiefar introduced A Bill Update Article XIX Section 4 of the Associated Students Elections Code.

At the meeting, however, senators discussed the viability and practicality of allowing political parties to run year-round. Wording changes were important to the senators, such as gender-inclusive language that was not restricted simply to the gender binary, and ensuring that legislation was clear (for example, a minimum of one representative from each campus media outlet, The Bottom Line, KCSB and the Daily Nexus, rather than three representatives from The Bottom Line, KCSB and the Daily Nexus).

“I was not approached by a single senator about what they’d like to see in these new regulations,” Nemeh said during the elections code working group at the meeting, regarding the bill that had been indefinitely tabled. Previously, he invited senators to give input on how to compromise and reform the bill to a point where it would be agreeable to senators. He expressed disappointment at some of the confusion regarding how quickly senators had to approve the bills without giving it more consideration, stating that the new Elections Code is very similar to the Campus Code of Conduct discussed at previous meetings.

Nemeh added two new sub-sections to Article XVII, Section 5 of Elections Code, regulating party status. Previously, senators had objected to regulating political parties through the Office of Student Life, believing AS would have to cede authority to outside sources and that the new process would lack transparency. The new code houses them under AS, and violators of Elections Code will have to report to Elections Board. Parties are allowed to exist year-round as of Oct. 14, but no regulatory policies were approved at the same meeting. This has been especially important to Nemeh, as he has spoken previously about personal experiences with harassment during campaign season, and how difficult it is to seek help and bring justice to perpetrators.

As senators revised each individual section of Legal Code, they made numerous amendments. An updated copy of Legal Code has not yet been uploaded onto the AS Senate website; however, for those running for AS offices and Senate next year, a copy will be made available in time for campaign season. Considering that a substantial portion of Elections Code has been changed, those running for elected office in the spring will need to revisit Legal Code.

The final draft of Elections Code reform was passed at 3 AM on Thurs., Nov. 19. The code will be implemented for the spring 2016 AS elections.

Gwendolyn Wu

A living The Bottom Line fossil, 2017-2018 Editor-in-Chief Gwendolyn Wu is a fourth year double majoring in history and sociology. She is most likely multi-tasking and inhabiting the couch in the newsroom as you read this bio.