Apr 202008
Authors: Sean Reed

Taylor Smoot, the newly elected Associated Students of CSU president, has had a ride destined for campus record books.

His election, just two short weeks ago, saw the highest turnout in student government history, and he and his running mate Quinn Girrens, a former member of the ASCSU Supreme Court, won in a landslide.

Just a few days prior, though, it looked as though Smoot and Girrens would have to throw in the towel over controversy surrounding a free Modus concert held by the campaign.

As per ASCSU elections rules, candidates are supposed to denote the fair market value of any donation they receive. This amount is then put toward the $2,000 campaign-spending limit for each set of candidates.

When reporting their expenditures, Smoot and Girrens apparently did not give the concert a fair value, and it almost led to their ejection from the ballot.

Fortunately, the committee overseeing the election gave them a second chance, and during a special hearing, they were allowed to amend their expenditures to reflect the value of the concert at a modest $82.50 — putting them safely under the $2,000 spending cap.

After this, it seemed as if all elections controversy was laid to rest. That was, of course, until last Tuesday.

That day, for the first time in ASCSU history, Edward Modec, a four-year member of the organization, submitted an official petition of the election results.

In his petition, Modec claimed Election Manager Emily Laue and the ASCSU Elections Committee defied the ASCSU Constitution when they lowered the supposed value of Smoot and Girrens’ concert on the plaza and that, as a result, the elections results were “null and void.”

Following this, the ASCSU Supreme Court was to examine the petition and make a judgment based on its merits. But rather than step up and make a decision, the Supreme Court dismissed the claim on the basis of what can only be described as a very loose, boneheaded interpretation of ASCSU Constitution.

The Supreme Court ruled that because Modec is not a full-time student, as defined by Article I, Section 101 of the Constitution, he is not member of ASCSU.

To be fair, they did get it half right. Modec is indeed not a full time student. As defined by ASCSU, you need to be enrolled in six credits and pay full student fees. Modec, who withdrew from a class, is only taking three credits, but is paying full fees.

The problem here, according to the document, is that you don’t need to be a full-time student to be a member. The only prerequisite to membership in ASCSU is that you are student. Modec, who is taking a class, is arguably a student.

Am I splitting hairs here? Absolutely, but so was the Supreme Court. And it didn’t even pay off.

On Thursday, former candidate Estevan Jaimes filed a complaint almost identical to Modec’s, and, given the fact that he was eligible to run for ASCSU office, his student credentials are pretty solid. This time, they will have to make a decision.

Hopes are high on both sides, but for all the fuss, it’s unlikely things will change.

This late in the game, a reelection is only going to hurt the organization. Budgets need to be made, plans for the coming year need to be set and, most importantly, relationships, both with other ASCSU members and with the university administration, need to be established.

This is not to say that Modec and Jaimes’ claims are without merit — Smoot’s campaign did violate the rules by not reporting the value of the concert, whether purposefully or not.

But the Elections Committee made the decision, for better or worse, to let the campaign continue, so the issue here shouldn’t be about what they did and their removal from office, but rather about the process.

It’s clear there are some faulty cogs that need to be fixed. Removing Smoot and Girrens, though, is not the solution.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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