ASUC President Connor Landgraf issued executive orders to place two referendums on this semester’s student ballot, sparking controversy among ASUC senators.
On March 24, Landgraf issued two executive orders to place the Class Pass and Health and Wellness referendums on the 2013 spring ASUC ballot. The referendums, which would extend the contract for student bus passes and collect funds to build new recreational facilities, missed the deadline to be placed on the ballot because the senate did not receive confirmation on the referendums’ language from the UC Office of the President in time.
”Well, in terms of thinking of the students’ perspective, I think it (was) important to get the referendums on the ballot,” said Elections Council chair Jina Yoo. “It’s really important that the students are voting on (them). It’s something I know for sure that (Landgraf) did for the students.”
According to the ASUC Constitution, the ASUC president may issue an executive order on “actions which are urgent and necessary to maintain the functioning of the ASUC.” Landgraf said that the executive orders were the only way to place the referendums on the ballot, but there has been dispute as to why the deadline was missed in the first place.
“(Landgraf) was so focused on the Health and Wellness referendum … that he forgot to put the Class Pass referendum on the ballot in time,” said ASUC Senator Nolan Pack. “It wasn’t necessary. They were separate bills — there is no reason he should have put those bills together.”
ASUC Senator Klein Lieu said he was also critical of the use of executive order for the Health and Wellness referendum and said it potentially reflected an imbalance of power between the president and the senate.
“Given the fact that the Class Pass is something that everybody uses, I can see the dire need to use executive order,” Lieu said. “I personally don’t think executive order needs to be used so frivolously like that. I don’t think that the Health and Wellness (referendum) is something that’s needed to keep the ASUC functioning.”
The use of executive order has varied from president to president, and the constitutional bylaws do not specify the frequency allowed for its use. During the 2011-12 academic year, former ASUC President Vishalli Loomba issued four executive orders during her time in office.
Pack also believes that regardless of the outcome of the vote on the Health and Wellness referendum, it could potentially be nullified by the Judicial Council due to the its placement on the ballot by executive order.
According to ASUC Judicial Council chair Suneeta Israni, no official actions can be made at this moment by the Judicial Council on the executive orders since the council has not yet received a formal petition.