Thursday, April 17, 2014

Advertise with us »

CSG files ballot question injunction against RSG

By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 23, 2012

With the November Central Student Government election just days away, CSG officials filed a preliminary injunction with the Central Student Judiciary to keep a survey question off the ballot designed to gauge graduate student interest in secession of Rackham Student Government from CSG.

Officially filed Wednesday — just six days before the start of the election, which runs online from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29 — the injunction argues that RSG has violated parts of its own bylaws and CSG's governing documents in attempt to put the question on the ballot, in addition to other more general violations.

Lukas Garske, CSG's legal counsel, said in an interview that he has spoken with CSJ Chief Justice Ryan Gersovitz concerning the injunction, though it remains unclear when the judiciary body plans to meet. If CSJ's proceedings are to take longer than the election, it is unclear if the question would be removed from the ballot in the interim.

CSG represents every student on campus, and individual schools and colleges have their own student governments. In September, RSG voted to create an exploratory committee to investigate student interest in graduate student secession from CSG.

At the time, RSG president Michael Benson said an all-graduate student government, splitting the more than 40,000 students on campus between two major student governments, could potentially split the $7.19 student fee that each student pays each semester. Secession could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost by CSG every year.

CSG alleges in its suit that RSG — which submitted the question on Nov. 15, 12 days before the start of the election — did not follow its own rules or CSG's rules in regards to when a ballot question needs to be submitted for inclusion on the ballot.

According to the CSG Compiled Code segments cited in the suit, ballot questions must be submitted 25 days prior to the election and the RSG bylaws cited in the suit state that ballot questions must be sent 14 days prior to an election.

“Twelve days is simply not enough time for adequate campaigning to take place,” the suit states. “Furthermore, this smoke and mirrors approach by the RSG Board to place the language on the ballot on its first read, while violating the deadlines, almost amounts to election fraud.”

While RSG sent the question 12 days before the start of the election, the election is described as taking place on Nov. 27-29 in the suit, meaning that RSG sent the question 14 days before the end of the election. The language in RSG's bylaws cited by the suit does not make clear at what point in the election ballot questions need to be submitted 14 days before. While RSG would still be in violation of the CSG compiled code, the suit does concede that “CSG has plenary authority to regulate the petition deadline.”

Nonetheless, the suit mentions other alleged violations unrelated to the filing date of the question. It argues that RSG has parts of it bylaws at odds with the governing documents of CSG and that consistently vacant seats in the CSG assembly set aside for Rackham students is a violation of the University of Michigan Student Body Constitution.

Garske — who had been working with members of the CSG executive board, rules committee chair Jeremy Keeney, assembly chair Michael Proppe and Rackham representative Patrick O'Mahen on the issue — said the injunction is in response to these violations, not in response to the intentions of RSG.

“We're not trying to disqualify them on any technicalities here,” Garske said.