Censuring A.S. president is unwise

    At least they’re not tossing tables or screaming “racist bastards” this year.

    In April 2003, Students First! candidates screamed in agony after their disqualification, tossed tables and verbally assaulted all within earshot.

    After Jenn Pae’s overwhelming victory — 1,691 votes to 1,047 — on April 9 in the A.S. presidential runoff election over Harish Nandagopal, Students First! supporters responded with silence and downcast eyes. Two or three offered half-hearted congratulations to Pae, before shuffling out of Round Table Pizza. Noticeably, Nandagopal did not offer congratulations immediately after hearing the election results, and instead walked out of the courtyard with his cohorts.

    They have since regrouped and rediscovered their outrage. Thurgood Marshall College junior senator Kate Maull, a staunch Students First! supporter, has called for the censure of A.S. President Jeremy Gallagher for an e-mail he sent out to hundreds of students during the runoff election. The e-mail, which read, in part, “I am voting Jenn Pae, but most importantly, spread the word to get the vote out!” was signed “Jeremy Paul Gallagher, A.S. President, UCSD.” The e-mail did not explicitly call on students to vote for Pae, but its intention — conveying the A.S. president’s endorsement of Pae — was clear.

    Maull’s reasons for the censure are misleading. In e-mails sent to the A.S. Council listserv, Maull said that Gallagher, by “virtue of his office,” had access to the e-mail accounts that received his message. The resolution itself refers to election bylaws that forbid candidates and slates to use “ASUCSD offices, services, enterprises or equipment” for campaign purposes. It also mentions a rule governing the conduct of officeholders, requiring that they refrain from endorsing candidates for national, state and local public office. Maull concludes that Gallagher used the Office of the President to endorse a candidate, which, she says, “clearly violates the spirit of ASUCSD’s objectivity and noninterference in elections expressed in the above by-laws.”

    She is wrong. Nowhere in the A.S. bylaws or the election bylaws are A.S. officials banned from endorsing candidates for student government, and Maull’s assertion that Gallagher gained “access” to his address book through the A.S. presidency is absurd. He’s been a resident advisor, so he knows a lot of people. Any student at UCSD can scan http://solo.ucsd.edu to find student organizations’ e-mail addresses or request a list of UCSD listservs from Academic Computing Services, and any Web user can type in combinations of letters on StudentLink to find every undergraduate’s e-mail address. The president has no exclusive access to e-mail addresses that aren’t available to the general public.

    If Maull wanted to malign Gallagher for abusing his office to endorse a candidate, she should direct her attention to Gallagher’s speech at the John Kerry rally two weeks ago. Kerry is running for president, a “national public office” covered by the A.S. bylaws. Of course Maull wouldn’t do that, since she herself — as president of the College Democrats — helped to organize that rally. She attacks Gallagher when he tacitly endorses her political opponent through e-mail, but not when he is introduced as “A.S. president Jeremy Gallagher” and delivers a speech in front of thousands of students.

    Maull seems to be searching for reasons to justify the overwhelming defeat of the Students First! presidential candidate. Gallagher is her scapegoat; he’s an easy, high-profile target on which to pin the blame for their loss. He “abused” his high office — a supposed advantage that was either not available to Nandagopal, or that he chose not to use.

    Maull’s censure resolution, co-sponsored by Student Affirmative Action Committee representative Daniel Gonzales, reeks of politics as usual. If Nandagopal had won the election, would we be seeing a resolution calling for Gallagher’s censure? That would just be rubbing salt into the wound. But since Pae won, Students First! is free to throw blame on everyone except on whom it belongs: the candidate himself.

    Hopefully, we can expect more from the likes of Maull — who was just elected Marshall senior senator — over the course of the 2004-2005 term. If this is a sign of things to come, it does not bode well for the new Students First!-dominated council.

    The senators should shut down this censure in the internal committee and not let it reach the council floor. This A.S. Council should be doing more productive things with its remaining time. Maull’s “Bill of Censure,” as she calls it, doesn’t deserve to see the light of day.

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