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Saturday, September 27, 2003
54-Gate is still growing.
The ASUC/GA Execs are pinning their hopes on a reading of the Wisconsin decision in the Supreme Court. Here's their interpretation:
Policies noted by representatives of the Daily Cal are obsolete because they have been superseded by court cases, including a Supreme Court case affirming the right of student governments to fund politically partisan activities.It's a pretty tenuous reading. Here's the Clam's deconstruction on it.
What makes it worse for them is that while Southworth says that a University is not barred from spending student fees on political activity, it is not REQUIRED to, either.As well as this Boalt Professor's comment, which I think sums it up.
But Boalt Hall School of Law Professor Jesse Choper said the Southworth case doesn’t apply in this scenario. “Southworth is a narrow opinion that tries to decide as few things as possible,” he said. “Southworth said a university may [permit compulsory fees to be used for lobbying]. Nothing in Southworth supports the view that the university must [do that]. This is a case in which the university of California says it won’t let funds be used for any political purposes.”This isn't to say that the GA doesn't have ANY case. But it's very tenuous, and the University would only need to win on one of the three objections noted here. The GA would have to win on all three! And this is besides the reporting requirements that don't appear to have been followed.. notice that the op-ed letter says nothing about them.
So what's the potential outcomes? I see two at this junction. Note that the ASUC Administrators are refusing to reimburse expenditures on Prop 54 things. This is good! It might keep the ASUC from being legally liable.
Unfortunately, it leaves the CalSERVE Execs with a wad of spending they need to be reimbursed for. Assuming they can't convince the ASUC to reimburse them, they really have two options. Well, three.
The first is to swallow their pride, take the losses, and let this all drift away. This is the preferable option for students. No one really pays but the Execs who got us into this mess. There's a possibility the UC Admins will still press for changes, but unlikely.
The second, and very awful option, is that the GA/ASUC Execs decide to sue to force the reimbursements, based on their reading of the Wisconsin decision. This is a very bad option. First, it entangles the ASUC in an expensive legal proceeding that they are very unlikely to win. Kiss more ASUC money goodbye. Second, it will push the Administrators even farther towards curtailing the independence of the ASUC, which they're already being pushed to do. Third... well, the first two should be enough.
The final option is to play tricky buggers with expenditures. Claiming the money wasn't spent from student fees may be a legal loophole. They could also try and hide the expenditures in other requests. The second one would be illegal, but it's been done before by other Execs. The first one is more plausible, but it's a little late to claim.
In sum, we're pretty hosed. Hopefully some of the Execs will come to their senses and back out, instead of pushing forward through sheer stubbornness. Ha! Back out for the first time in CalSERVE history? Back out when they've already turned their debacle into a crusade in their own minds? All of a sudden the morass they've created has become a last stand for student governments NATIONWIDE?
'Failing to engage in thoughtful examination of the facts could result in a substantial weakening not only of our student governments, but also of student governments nationwide.Oh no, we're only going in deeper, my friends.
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