A.S. commissioner positions could become appointed

Students will vote on whether to make A.S. commissioner offices appointed rather than elected positions in a referendum added to the April general election ballot by the A.S. Council on March 5.

Adam Breckler

The referendum will ask students if they support amending the A.S. constitution to grant the A.S. Council the task of appointing commissioners of student advocacy, programming, academic affairs, student services, diversity affairs, athletics and enterprises.

An appointments committee composed of the newly elected A.S. president, the outgoing commissioner of a given office and one newly elected senator from each college would recommend appointments. Approval of each appointment would then be “”subject to a majority vote”” by the A.S. Council.

Commissioner positions would be appointed by the seventh week of spring quarter. If passed, the amendment will first be applicable to the 2004 election cycle.

On March 7, in a controversial open role call vote, the A.S. Council fell short of approving the constitutional amendment. The amendment proposal, submitted by 10 senators, received a majority vote of 11-10 with one abstention, but failed to attain the three-quarters vote required for a constitutional amendment. The amendment would have then had to have been approved by four of the six college councils to take effect.

The A.S. Council debated the proposal for over an hour in its March 5 meeting. The proposal’s advocates, namely its co-authors, John Muir College Freshman Senator Nam Bui, Revelle College Freshman Senator Carrie Du, Eleanor Roosevelt College Junior Senator David Goodwin, ERC Freshman Senator Max Harrington, ERC Senior Senator Wendy Ho, ERC Sophomore Senator Desiree Jabson, Thurgood Marshall College Junior Senator Jeff Le, Warren College Senior Senator Lauren Lee, Revelle Sophomore Senator Achim Lyon and Revelle Junior Senator Bishoy Said, argued that the amendment would best serve all students.

Supporters of the proposal contended that an appointment system for commissioners would be in line with the representative system of democracy employed by the U.S. government and would make the commissioner posts less exclusionary by taking slate politics out of the equation. Supporters also argued that due to student voting apathy, the council might be more qualified to select individuals who possess the qualifications that specific commissioner posts demand.

“”We felt that qualified commissioners could be picked better by the A.S. Council,”” Lyon said. “”It would serve the students better if commissioners were more qualified.””

Other members of the A.S. Council, including A.S. President Jenn Brown and five of the six commissioners present at the meeting, opposed the proposed amendment, arguing that it would limit the voice of students, eliminate the educational value of running for office and could lead to cronyism.

“”It doesn’t make a difference who’s the most qualified candidate. [The positions should be filled by] the candidate whose goals are most in line with the students,”” said Commissioner of Programming Gabe Grossman. “”Commissioner positions should be elected, and that shouldn’t change, ever.””

Amid the item’s discussion, Muir Sophomore Senator Jeremy Cogan suggested that the A.S. Council consult students before passing the legislation.

“”Regardless of the advantages or disadvantages of appointing commissioners, the people who traditionally elect [commissioners] should have a say in taking that right away or maintaining it,”” Cogan said.

Marshall Junior Senator Le later submitted an item of immediate consideration that proposed adding a referendum asking students if they support the amendment to the general election ballot. Council members discussed whether to word the referendum question to highlight its specific purpose, but settled on simply asking students, “”Do you support the following ASUCSD constitutional changes?”” and displaying the proposed amendments.

The A.S. Council approved the referendum question by a vote of 17-1, with one abstention.