Codifying ASBSU: Upcoming changes to code and how it affects students

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Over the next semester, the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) will be undertaking a number of reforms to its Student Assembly code, Executive Council code, election code and ethics code. In addition, the Inclusive Excellence Student Council (IESC) will be adopting a code to bring the organization in line with other ASBSU bodies. The plan is to finish each code in three-week sections with the IESC code being the first to be finished on Feb. 13.

The codes—which are publicly available documents—detail how ASBSU functions and can be used to hold members of ASBSU accountable. Suggestions for revising code can be made by students through a Google form managed by ASBSU Ethics Officer Reegan Jacobson. The ethics officer also takes complaints concerning ASBSU officers who have violated code. Impeachment trials can be pursued at the discretion of Jacobson and his committee on Student Assembly.

According to ASBSU President Kaleb Smith, code serves as the backbone of student government and the student voice on campus.

“ASBSU is supposed to be a resource for students. Code ensures that we don’t stray away from that path,” Smith said.

Upcoming changes to the organization’s code may affect students by opening up the IESC to the same level of scrutiny as other ASBSU bodies, giving the IESC a permanent place in ASBSU so that they can represent marginalized populations effectively, removing potential financial barriers to individuals seeking a position with the ASBSU executive and bolstering the level of representation of the Student Assembly.

While changes will be coming to multiple codes, the introduction of IESC code and the revision of election and Student Assembly code are the most significant.

Assembly

While Jacobson has indicated that the changes to Assembly code will likely be minor and focused on cleaning up the code rather than overhauling it, he did acknowledge that the existing code results in poor student representation on Assembly.

Assembly members do not actually represent population groups beyond being a member of the population group themselves. To get their position all an Assembly member must do is apply to the Executive Council and identify population groups they belong to, according to ASBSU Vice President Emily Rembert. Other than mandatory meetings with staff members, there are no clauses in the Assembly code which incentivize or require Assembly members to reach out to students in their population group or to address specific concerns students may have.

IESC

On Jan. 28, Jacobson sat down to begin discussions about what the IESC code will look like. While there are many unknowns in the process, the reason for IESC getting a code is clear.

“We need a document,” said Vice President of Inclusive Excellence Esperansa Gomez. “Not only so students can know what’s going on and how it functions but for sustainability purposes as well where future teams can’t just scrap the IESC.”

The council is now an official body of ASBSU after the merge which passed during the last election. Despite this, no code was ever written for the body. This has allowed the council to, at times, operate outside the public eye. Not having a code also prevents student scrutiny because the complaint system only applies to code. Gomez hopes that adopting code will amend these concerns, increasing the legitimacy and buy-in of IESC as an official body of student government.

Election code

The current election code allows for any individual or third party group to make unlimited campaign contributions. The only requirement is that the candidate receiving the contribution submits campaign finance reports which document where the contribution is coming from and how much the contribution is.

 

The implications of this may seem negligible but it allows for outside partisan organizations to contribute large sums of money to a candidate of their choice. Groups, like Turning Point USA, have taken advantage of similarly written code at other universities to contribute up to tens of thousands of dollars to individual student campaigns.

The upcoming changes to election code seek to prevent third party organizations from doing this in order to provide a level playing field for all candidates wishing to serve on the executive council of ASBSU.

“I don’t think its right for any organization to come in and go ‘here’s $10,000 to the candidate we want because we want them to enact our policies.’ I don’t care if they donate money but I do think there should be a limit on money contributions and that goes for any organization—conservative or liberal,” Smith said.

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