Students’ feelings toward UC President Mark Yudof and the Board of Regents may be put up to a vote in the upcoming weeks.
A group of students are working towards utilizing the ASUCD referendum process to allow students to vote for or against two measures – one declaring no confidence in the leadership of Yudof and the other declaring no confidence in the management of the regents.
“It’s the first time students have a chance to vote on this issue,” said Brian Spark, senior international relations major and organizer of the protest. “It’s the first truly democratic protest.”
The Internal Affairs Commission (IAC) looked at the language of the referendums on Monday and the Student Government Association Office printed petitions to be circulated this week.
The referendum process requires 8 percent of the student population to sign the petitions before the whole student body can vote on it. These 2,000 signatures must be collected within four academic weeks of IAC’s approval in order for a special election to be called.
If called to an election, students will be able to vote on the two measures online like they would for an ASUCD government election.
Referendums can also be passed through the ASUCD senators, however, Sparks thought a greater statement could be made if the whole campus voted.
“I think the message is a lot more clear when it’s from the students directly,” he said. “It requires a lot of people and lets everyone be involved, not just 12 senators.”
Choosing to avoid the senators could be viewed as the students feeling that ASUCD isn’t adequately representing them, said Rudy Ornelas, director of legislation and policy at the office of the ASUCD president.
“We have students here that feel like ASUCD isn’t working for them, which is why they have submitted a petition to essentially let themselves voice their opinion by a vote,” Ornelas said.
The referendums declare no confidence in Yudof and the regents for fee hikes, academic and related program cuts and the discussion of further tuition increases and budget cuts without significant transparency or input on behalf of the students, staff and faculty.
Sparks thinks the campus vote can spark movements on other UC campuses. If the referendums pass here, it is likely they will be attempted elsewhere.
“Everyone will be watching this vote,” Sparks said.
While many students are angry at the administration, collecting the required signatures may be challenging, Ornelas said.
“There’s still a giant disconnect with students where they generally don’t care,” he said. “It’s almost like running an election. You need to get as many people out there as possible to inform students of what is going on.”
Outreach will be an issue, said Renata Langis, sophomore international agricultural development major. Students should make announcements at classes or on KDVS and table on the Quad – e-mail and Facebook are hardly effective any more.
“A lot of people like to demonstrate because of the thrill of being in the physical space and outwardly acting,” Langis said. “So when it’s just in the cyberspace and it’s just a physical vote instead of an action, it might not be as attractive to some.”
However, the prospect of voting democratically on the issue could be a more attractive protest to those who were put off by some of the actions on Mar. 4, Sparks said.
“I’ve been checking with a lot of people from a lot of different groups and so far I’ve been hearing a lot of support,” he said.
Langis is one of these students. She was disturbed by the police brutality and disappointed by the decisions driven by mob mentality on Mar. 4, and she appreciates the peacefulness of the referendum idea.
“It’s really interesting because it’s completely nonviolent and just gets the message across in a simple action that a lot of people could get involved in,” she said.
JANELLE BITKER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.