The Associated Students Senate is scheduled to vote Sept. 27 to determine whether three referendum items proposed by A.S. Attorney General Hamid Jahangard will be placed on the Fall 2005 A.S. election ballot.
The proposed referendums concern potential changes to the A.S. constitution, and therefore must be presented to and voted on by the entire student body.
The first referendum is a proposal to rename the Constitutional Affairs Board of the A.S. Senate. This referendum, arguably the simplest of the three would create a name that more accurately reflects the true scope and nature of the responsibility of this A.S.-standing committee, according to a report by Jahangard.
The name of the committee would be changed from the “Constitutional Affairs Board” to the “A.S. Judicial Court.” This particular referendum would not affect the function or operation of the CAB, which rules on matters of constitutionality.
The second referendum is more complicated, however, and has greater implications in regards to the functioning of the A.S. Senate and its exercise of power.
According to a report by Jahangard, there is a concern that the current CAB may only make interpretations on the constitutionality of an item or issue, but that their interpretations and decisions are not binding in the Senate.
The current A.S. constitution allows for the Senate to overturn decisions made by the CAB with a two-thirds vote in the Senate.
The change proposed in the referendum would read as follows: “In matters where the A.S. Judicial Court is asked to render a decision on the constitutionality of an item or issue, the A.S. Judicial Court’s decision is final and fully binding upon the A.S. Senate and its documents, policies, and provisions.”
“The goal is to better the student organization,” Jahangard said. “(The referendum) does this by instituting checks and balances (that) we are currently lacking.”
According to A.S. Vice President Safa Sajadi, the proposed referendum is important in allowing the students to have a say in how the A.S. constitution functions. Depending on the outcome, students may have the opportunity to decide whether or not the A.S. Senate mirrors the U.S. Constitution, and whether it is a good thing.
“I don’t think it is good to change (the constitution),” said Asusena Castaneda, Health and Human Development II senator. “It takes power away from the Senate.”
It is likely that the two referendums will be a major source of debate during the Sept. 27 meeting, as the senators will decide how much power they are willing to give up.
The third referendum up for discussion at the upcoming meeting proposes the creation of four “at large” A.S. Senate representative seats.
The A.S. Senate currently has four upper-division and four lower-division representatives, while graduate students and eight academic colleges each have two representatives.
The proposed referendum would allow the creation of four at large seats by removing two of the current lower division seats and two of the current upper division seats.
The new “at large” representatives would not be tied to one specific academic college or particular academic standing. Any student enrolled at CSUN who pays A.S. fees and meets the campus and CSU Chancellor’s Office’s eligibility requirements to hold student office could run for these seats, according to Jahangard’s report.
“I think that (this referendum) will help to open up more senate seats for students who don’t fit into any of the particular colleges. At large, senators would represent the entire university,” said Justin Carvalho, Social and Behavioral Science I senator.
This Tuesday’s A.S. Senate meeting will be held at 2 p.m. in the University Student Union Grand Salon Room.
Michael Salseda can be reached at email@example.com.