Mar 302005
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

Students hoping to see a referendum supporting less severe university sanctioned penalties for marijuana use on the ballot for next week's Associated Students of CSU elections may not see it come to fruition.

Volunteers with SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation) Choice, a nonprofit organization supporting alcohol-use awareness, have been collecting signatures from students in an effort to get the referendum on the ballot for the elections to be held April 4 through April 6.

The referendum would not change the consequences of marijuana use on campus. If it passes, it would be a recommendation by the student body to the university that penalties for marijuana use be reduced to match those of alcohol use.

Questions were raised by an anonymous source about the validity of some of the signatures. There needs to be 2,085 valid signatures from full-time, fee-paying students in order for the referendum to be placed on the ballot.

"Our organization feels the punishments for marijuana are too tough right now," said Dylan Bieniulis, a freshman biochemistry major and one of the student volunteers. "We just want to get it out there to see what the students think. Now we're experiencing difficulties getting it on the ballot."

Election rules stipulate that a written protest may be filed and should be given to those who are trying to place the referendum so they know their accuser, a rule Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER said ASCSU has violated.

"As of right now, ASCSU hasn't followed the election rules," Tvert said. "Halfway through the election they decided to change the rules. It's an obvious effort to keep it off the ballot. We're going to protest to the full extent."

Tvert said he has not been able to get the name of the person who was complaining about the signatures.

"They said the person was going to remain confidential," Tvert said. "Apparently a few people thought they were able to sign but they weren't."

Since it was an anonymous person expressing concern over the validity of the signatures, it was not a formal contestation in writing that falls under these rules, said Elections Committee Manager Brian Hardouin.

"There was an agreement made that the person would not make a contestment if it was verified," said Cord Brundage, interim executive elections adviser.

Hardouin said because of the concerns they have begun verifying the signatures in an effort to get the referendum on the ballot by Thursday so students can vote on it.

"The individual had legitimate concerns and some of those are emerging," Hardouin said.

Brundage said it was within the rights of the election manager to verify the signatures.

"We had people here all night," Hardouin said of trying to certify the referendum. "It's definitely not a lack of effort. There would be no contestment if it was certified."

The last time there was a student referendum discussed was 1995, when the student fee review board was formed, Brundage said.

Tvert said that could be part of the problem.

"There's no precedent for anything like this," Tvert said.

If all signatures are certified by noon today, Hardouin said the referendum would definitely be on the ballot for the election.

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