Update 4/16/2013: A group of students are protesting Holmes’s intervention:
We write this letter in protest of the circumstances surrounding the culmination of the 2013 ASUO elections.
The unwarranted intervention by UO Administration in the release of this year’s election results was an unacceptable breach of the autonomy of our student body and government. Long has it been a point of pride at this University that student political activity thrives free from outside influence. It is a right that we have labored for since its inception.
This is not a matter of winners or losers. We write this knowing full well that Constitution Court’s decision not only punished the United Oregon campaign, but our own as well. Constitution Court ruled that both campaigns behaved inappropriately and ought to be disqualified from elections, thus invalidating the election in its entirety.
Our ability to operate as the most autonomous student government in the nation is at stake. Therefor we ask that Dr. Holmes formally withdraw her decision in which she ordered the elections results be released, and allow Constitution Court to resume control of the ASUO election process, permitting the ASUO to resolve this issue autonomously, regardless the outcome or consequences. We also ask that Constitution Court write a decision free of outside intervention or influence on the part of UO Administration. We will happily submit to any ruling that that body hands down, on the condition that it be allowed to do so in the manner discussed herein.
4/15/2013: VPSA Robin Holmes learned the easy way – as in she still has a job – that Oregon law does not govern ASUO elections. As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Ed last summer:
Lately, the University of Oregon has had a little trouble getting students to go along with its plan to renovate Erb Memorial Union, the university’s dilapidated student-union building. The sticky part of that plan: getting students to vote to raise their fees to help pay for the $135-million renovation. In two referenda in the past year, students voted down the university’s plans, which would have raised fees by $100 per term.
That has led the university administration to some desperate measures—which may lead to more trouble. Students have learned that the university hired a Denver-based research-and-strategy firm, which specializes in political campaigns, to try to push the students to a yes vote in yet another referendum in October. That fact alone has irked some students who have been active in the student-union debate.
Ms. Holmes did not respond to requests for an interview.
But the language of the proposal was only one concern. The proposal also outlines a budget of $20,000 to $30,000 to spend on T-shirts, drawstring backpacks, banners, table tents, stickers, and other items designed to spread the message and win over 3,000 voters.
“They are basically spending $10 a vote, which I think is ridiculous,” Mr. Wise said.
The initiative eventually passed. Apparently UO student politics and butt-ugly t-shirts go together like Tammany and Hall. In the ASUO elections that ended Friday, the competing campaigns of Lamar Wise and Sam Dotters-Katz were both accused of using t-shirts to buy votes.
The ASUO Constitution Court issued an opinion,” Holmes wrote, “that the ASUO Election results were invalid, based on the opinion that both campaigns violated ASUO election rules because they failed to comply with Oregon election laws. ASUO elections are not subject to Oregon election law. As such, the election is valid and the results should be released as soon as possible.”
Mr. Dotters-Katz, a law student, was the winner. He is best known for de-funding OSPIRG when he was ASUO President a few years back, as an undergrad. Good work, Mr. D-K. But in this election students also passed a ballot initiative to *increase* OSPIRG funding. Should be an interesting and educational year for student government.