Nexus is Placed in a Bind

2001 has not been a good year for UCSD elections.

One of the low points occurred on April 10, when the student council “”election”” at Marshall college turned into a disgrace. Due to disqualification, students were left with only one candidate to choose from for each of the eight positions.

Nexus, one out of two slates running in the election, was eliminated due to numerous violations, including posting too many signs and “”dorm storming”” (going into residence halls to solicit votes). As a result, the other slate, Marshall Posse, automatically won all eight positions.

As your average Marshall frshman, at first the whole ordeal just seemed kind of bothersome to me. I was troubled that I didn’t get to choose, but who gives a crap about Nexus or Marshall Posse? Someone’s just going to come in and go through the motions.

However, the more I looked into the issue, the more it alarmed me. And the more I looked at Nexus, the more I understood the positive messages it has for UCSD.

The idea of such a lopsided election at Marshall college is particularly upsetting and ironic, because the school was established in 1970 as a college for students who questioned the messages that society sends, and as an institution that advocated social change.

Whether Marshall college lives up to its role of political activist is in the eye of the beholder. Nexus, however, fits this bill perfectly.

It was just a group of students that wanted to make a difference, to make our time in college more enjoyable — and above all, to get more students involved in the decision-making process that affects us all.

After meeting with student council chair candidate Adam Sherry, vice chair candidate Brent Nibecker and director of finance candidate Mike Afshar, their good intentions for Marshall college became apparent, as did the full extent of the mistake made in eliminating them.

“”The main thing we based this campaign on was the fact that people around us weren’t happy,”” Sherry said. “”This school has so much potential that is not realized.””

The problem is, students are not talking loudly enough. How is the school supposed to know what we want or need? There’s S.C.O.R.E., a weekly meeting where students can voice complaints. But it is not always the current situation that needs to be remedied; there are new things that can be done to improve our way of life.

Nexus proposed a solution to the problem of miscommunication: Get more students involved in council meetings.

“”If we’re spending a few thousand dollars, I want more than 20 kids to be involved in it,”” Afshar said.

Nexus’ answer is simple and sound. Hold public forums, which students will know about ahead of time, in which student concerns can be addressed. This isn’t the same as S.C.O.R.E. — it’s getting students involved in what the student council does. The parliamentary procedure and boring stuff will be left for more official council meetings. Perhaps people might not have shown up anyway, but maybe they would have, and Nexus would have given students a chance to be heard.

Nexus was punished essentially for wanting just that — to be heard. Sure, maybe it posted more flyers than were allowed, but is that really such a big deal? Its members put their voices out there and tried to make some changes, but they were denied any chance to help the student body.

The circumstances in which Nexus was booted are suspicious. In addition, members of Nexus complain that their punishment — which included 15 hours of community service and an ethics class — was too harsh.

First, Marshall Posse was faced with many of the same charges as Nexus, yet went unpunished. Regardless of the parties’ guilt, the manner in which the election rules committee handled the situation was unfair. According to Sherry and Afshar, while Marshall Posse was allowed a hearing to contest the allegations, Nexus never had an opportunity to defend itself in front of the rules committee that eliminated it.

How can a college that supposedly advocates social change allow the ideas of these eight students to be barred by trivial rules and regulations? In a school that is lacking student involvement (look at the less than 25 percent voter turnout for the recent A.S. elections), to have candidates turned away from an election is appalling.

Even Marshall college’s “”Dimensions of Culture”” sequence emphasizes the idea of procedural vs. substantive justice, or essentially, following the rules vs. trying to get the best result.

Nexus broke the rules. It got kicked out. That’s the procedure, that’s how we maintain order.

But how can anything ever change if rules aren’t broken? If Rosa Parks didn’t take a seat at the front of the bus? If Elizabeth I didn’t rule England? If America never rebelled against Great Britain?

Nexus was something different, and instead we responded in the same old way. Nobody cared about its radical stance, or knew what to do about it, until it was time to suppress its members’ ideas just because of some stupid old rule.

Why are we so afraid to stray from the beaten path? College is not just about classes and diplomas, it’s about possibilities and opportunities. This isn’t junior high school, where student government candidates feed us empty promises of longer lunch breaks and field trips to Disneyland.

The real world is a place of substance, where following procedure strictly won’t always get you where you need to be, and you can’t stand still waiting for something — anything — to happen. We should all be like Nexus, just a bunch of average college kids, trying to make things happen.

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