The Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) held a special election on a constitutional amendment and three honor board positions from March 2–5. According to Diversity & Equity Board (DEB) treasurer Kenya Sterns (sophomore), the amendment and new fee structure failed to garner the necessary turnout from the student body to pass. Per ASOC bylaws, constitutional amendments require at least 20 percent of the student body to vote and need a majority of that population in favor in order to pass. In addition to the amendment and fee structure changes not passing, three Honor Board jurors, Adam Cole (first year), Jenny Desch (sophomore) and Ryan Lin (senior) were elected after running unopposed.
Technical issues occurred with the online voting system March 1 that delayed voting by one day, according to an email sent from ASOC President Kitty Lu (senior) March 3 apologizing for the delay and extending the voting deadline to Friday, March 5. According to Lu and Sterns, students will see the amendment back on the ballot in April when ASOC holds its annual election for all Senate positions, vacant Honor Board juror seats and a newly established position, ASOC Finance Director.
According to Lu, students supported the constitutional amendment in a 10-to-1 ratio, but there were still not enough votes to pass it.
“It was a special election, which means it’s not something that most people are aware of and as much as we try to advertise through email people just don’t pay attention much,” Lu said.
Sophomore senator Lena Sullivan said ASOC tries to utilize social media to get out the vote, with members using their personal accounts to advertise as well, but interest in the election was low.
“It’s been a lot of trying to meet people where they already are spending time on the internet, which is largely social media, but it’s definitely a challenge,” Sullivan said.
Lu said the only outreach she performed was with friends asking her about the amendment and sending out collegewide reminder emails.
“I think that’s literally all we could do in terms of providing information,” said Lu. “Whether or not people took the time to read those, it wasn’t really up to us.”
Cole stated he was not thrilled with the lack of votes for the Honor Board elections, as he said that students put in a lot of work upfront to get on the ballot. All candidates for Honor Board must acquire 40 virtual signatures to be considered to get on the ballot, according to an email from Lu.
“Our school is a very, very politically active sphere. The fact that they can’t take the two minutes to go vote for their own school, that was just kind of disappointing, really disappointing,” Cole said. “Because you would think we want to take those things more seriously or just be motivated to take a few moments and go do it.”
Cole said, as a first year, it was difficult to get 40 signatures for him to be considered for Honor Board.
“I know, like, five students,” Cole said.
Sterns, who contributed to the development of the constitutional amendment, said she did not think students understood their role in campus decision-making.
“With [the amendment’s] passing, our voices and the branches that were established by the students would actually have an impact on a lot of the bigger decisions going on,” Sterns said. “It’s really just to ensure that all voices are being heard on campus, not just Senate, because they’re getting the most money.”
Outside of budgeting and having equal financial grounds, Sterns said the establishment of the executive committee will make sure that decisions are made with diversity, equity and sustainability in mind.
“It’s taking the hierarchical structure out of our student government, and making it so that all students have an equal chance to be represented,” Sterns said. “The amendment makes sure that the bigger decisions are not being made just for monetary reasons.”
ASOC’s annual election will be held in April. Sullivan said turnout for this election is expected to be higher as all ASOC positions are open on the ballot. According to both Lu and Sterns, with other positions up on the ballot, interest in voting typically grows.
Lu said a newly established position, ASOC Finance Director, is on the ballot as well. The new role, which was created through the 2020 constitutional amendment, is meant to be independent of all branches and is a non-voting member of the executive committee, according to the ASOC Constitution. Per Article Two, Section Five of the ASOC Constitution, the Finance Director will act as an advisor to ASOC branch treasurers.
In a April 3 email, Angela Guglielmino (sophomore), ASOC elections chair, announced the positions being considered in the spring election and that petitions are due April 7.
“I just really hope that people run,” Lu said. “You want to be involved and you want to serve the Oxy community in any capacity? Run. Be involved.”