Leadership Employs Bylaws Suspension

Guardian File
Guardian File

A.S. Council voted to bypass the necessary three-fourths voting threshold last week in order to move funds from Mandated Reserves into Student Organization funding.

In an unprecedented move, A.S. Council bypassed a clause of its own bylaws during its April 16 meeting in order to allocate money from the Mandated Reserves to fund student organizations.

As UCSD’s reserve fund, the mandated reserves are intended for use in emergency situations. Because of a lack of programming funding for student organizations, Council voted to withdraw money from these reserves in order to increase funding for student organizations, particularly those that host graduation-related events.

When it called for a vote in Forum, A.S. Council encountered a conflict with its current bylaws, due to the fact that the bylaws state that a three-fourths vote of the entire council is required to ratify or pass an amendment to withdraw funds.

There are 34 A.S. council members in total; however, at the time of the vote, only 28 were present. Therefore, to retain the three-fourths vote and pass the amendment, 26 council members had to vote yes, meaning no more than two council members could vote against in order for the amendment to pass.

According to Vice President of Finance and Resources Sean O’ Neal, this act of bypassing bylaws in order to supersede the original threshold to pass an amendment is unprecedented in A.S. Council history.

O’Neal moved to bypass the bylaws in part to make time to rally more council members to attend the meeting and vote.

“[This] would have made A.S. Council only need 23 votes, which would allow more room for dissension and create a similar voting threshold if all member[s] of council showed up,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal further explained that if the vote to allocate from the mandated reserves was taken before the suspension of the bylaws, the motion would have failed.

“By allowing three more members of council to show up (making the total council present 31), the vote was 27–4–0, which was enough to have the three-fourths original threshold of council anyways,” O’Neal said. “It turns out that the suspension of bylaws was moot, in that we reached the original threshold needed, making the suspension of bylaws unnecessary.”

Revelle Senator Soren Nelson voted no on withdrawing money from the reserves.

“The harsh reality is that there’s no indication that money taken from our reserves will ever be replaced, so to me this was a choice between students suffering now or suffering later,” Nelson said. “I would have voted yes if the withdrawal was paired with a reasonable plan for replacing the money.”

He also explained his frustration with the actions certain council members took.

“The threshold for pulling from reserves is high — especially considering how little we now have left in that account,” Nelson said. “Suspending bylaws was manipulative, unprofessional and hugely damaging to the association’s credibility.”

Revelle Senator Marco Vasquez voted against withdrawing from mandated reserves because there was a 35-percent decrease in reserve funds during this A.S. council’s term.

The Mandated Reserves began with $458,000 and currently have $300,000 left.

Furthermore, Vasquez said that the council did not offer a solution to ensure that this situation would not occur again.

“The reason Mandated Reserves has this [three-fourths] threshold is to institutionally ensure that it is used infrequently and for emergencies or starting up new enterprises,” Vasquez said. “This seemed to be ignored, and those who wanted to win did so at all costs.”

During the meeting, an ad hoc committee was created to review the mandated reserves and come up with a solution to ensure that this situation will not occur again through research and collaboration.