Amend the Constitution!

Feb 252004
Authors: Joe Marshall

A more local brand of presidential politics has made its annual

descent upon CSU: Associated Students of CSU elections are less

than a month away. While I may be one of the few people outside of

ASCSU who happens to be truly interested in this spectacle, the

corruption surrounding the event is getting so bad even I am


Every year ASCSU waits until the last minute to approve the

election bylaws. Every year the bylaws are amended in the eleventh

hour causing someone to cry “foul!” Every year ASCSU gives itself a

black eye just before its members try to convince the student body

to take their student government institution seriously.

The current members of ASCSU could save themselves a good deal

of strength and credibility in the future by adopting a uniform set

of election bylaws as a permanent amendment to their


The Senate approved the election bylaws for this year’s election

on Feb. 11. The bylaws limit campaign expenditures to $3,000. Until

Wednesday night, a loophole was present in the bylaws that would

have allowed donated items to only be counted as one-quarter of its

actual retail value. This loophole would have allowed ASCSU

candidates to spend up to $12,000, four times the amount


This loophole could have allowed an ASCSU presidential candidate

able to get a lot of goods or services donated from a family or

friends the ability to spend every possible penny allowed in the

bylaws to win. If a candidate didn’t have family members or friends

who are able to donate thousands of dollars in goods they could not


The problem with ASCSU changing this inherently unfair rule is

that they changed it after the race already begun. Because ASCSU

passed the election bylaws on Feb. 11 and the packets for

applicants have already been available, I think the rules should

have to remain unchanged. If not, hypothetically candidates, who

are also currently in ASCSU, planning on running in this year’s

election could promote legislation changing the rules to their

advantage in the election, not for the good or in the best

interests of the students they represent.

Into the foray steps the ASCSU Supreme Court. The court, while

it really has no business doing so, has came out before Wednesday’s

vote and declared that removing the “one-quarter” clause from the

yet-to-be ratified bylaws was unconstitutional. The court cited a

court case from last year’s election, Marshall vs. ASCSU, as


The justices ruled against the ASCSU Senate last year and

effectively made it illegal for the Senate to amend elections

bylaws after they had been made available to candidates. The

problem with the court citing this case as precedent, according to

Nathan Steinberg, the 2004 elections manager, is that “the

applications for candidacy are out, but the bylaws are not.”

Steinberg, who in my opinion is the only person in ASCSU without

some underlying political agenda, had another good reason the case

should not be used as precedent. “The changes (to the bylaws) would

not affect any current candidate’s status.”

Why would the court step in and try to influence potential

legislation when it is only able to decide on the legality of

legislation already passed and brought before it? Like the senators

who promoted the removal the “one-quarter” clause, the court claims

it is trying to maintain a certain degree of fairness by

maintaining the rules.

In the end, however, this whole charade surrounding campaign

spending limits doesn’t quite catch the essence of the real

problem. The real problem lies in the senate, and those who covet

the most power within the body, having the ability to craft new

election laws annually or as it sees fit.

The current system of creating and approving a new set of

election bylaws every year encourages acts of corruption in ASCSU.

I believe this environment drives the members of ASCSU to protect

their own personal interests first and to look after the interests

of the students they claim to serve second.

There is a sign currently posted in the ASCSU office which

states, “Remember we are here to advance the cause of the student,

not ourselves.” The drama and political backstabbing that could

potentially go on in the ASCSU office is proof of how far the

institution is straying from this credo.

Amending the constitution to include a set of election rules

that are not subject to annual review or change could end this

corruption. By making a permanent set of election rules and

regulations a part of the constitution this year, the outgoing

Senate can leave a lasting legacy on the institution.

ASCSU really does a great number good deeds and services for the

student body it represents. If the potential corruption can be

clipped, the institution and everyone in it would be made more

honorable even if the students it serves fail to notice.


Joe is a senior majoring in history. His column runs Thursdays

and yes, he is the Marshall in “Marshall vs. ASCSU”

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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