California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Staff Editorial: Cal Lutheran Student Body Deserves Transparency

In March of last year, The Echo released an editorial calling for transparency in student government. It has unfortunately become a trend around elections time — and here we go again.

Last week, our student body president, someone elected to represent the students before university administration and the Board of Regents, was removed from office by a judicial body whose meetings are closed; and whose operations are “confidential.” Aside from The Echo’s coverage, ASCLUG has neglected to inform students that Nick Steinwender is no longer president. Where is the transparency?

1. Need for clear judicial & constitutional procedures:

As representatives review their constitution and bylaws in the wake of these events, the Associated Students of California Lutheran University Government need to develop clear procedures for something so drastic as removing our student body president from office.

Currently, the constitution leaves no room for sanctions other than putting representatives on the chopping block. Especially in a case where judicial meetings and their votes are closed to the public, our university needs to present clear reasons why a student body president or any elected official has been removed from office. Steinwender was removed after stepping down from the elections committee and endorsing Sophomore Senator Thomas Singelyn for 2019-20 president. Removal from office for a perceived violation of an election packet that continually changes and a vague constitution should be a last resort, not the sole option. In addition, students and fellow members of government should be given the chance to provide their feedback. However, students cannot do this if they are not aware that it is happening.

2. Election results should be released:

Student government is also rolling back transparency in election policies. Last week, they decided once again to not release the voting percentages each candidate received in the Executive Cabinet elections, overturning a progressive change made in the fall. Our representatives clearly believe they are immune to general standards of accountability so that, as our new President Alexis Ghattas said, the feelings of people running for office will not get hurt. We should not prevent the student body from its right to know election results simply because we do not want to “hurt feelings.”

Candidates should be aware that someone has to lose. If someone is winning by one percentage point versus 30, that is information the student body deserves to know.

3. Open elections committee meetings:

Elections committee meetings are closed to the public and their meeting minutes are “confidential.” This became an issue last year when two Executive Cabinet candidates, one of whom was running unopposed, were disqualified and the committee refused to specify.

This group of representatives that makes and enforces elections procedures should be transparent in its operations. Ghattas said that this is for the protection of candidates, but protection from what?

4. Disclose spring formal information:

Our Programs Board released on Monday that spring formal will be hosted at Los Robles Greens, up the road from Borderline Bar & Grill, where a Cal Lutheran alum was killed just under four months ago. It is Programs Board’s tradition to do “location drops” announcing event locations. In general, students should have the opportunity to provide feedback on how their tuition dollars are spent. That is especially true given the sensitivity of this location.

Our representatives may not have seen the controversy coming, or had limited options, and that is understandable. But now is the chance to learn, and correct the mistake of making decisions without receiving the feedback of the very students they are elected to represent.

In a recent interview with The Echo, Ghattas said, “Above all else, we want to be transparent.” Having our student body president kicked out of office should serve as a wake up call for our government to make some real, lasting changes.

Editorial Staff

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