The Green Action Fund (GAF) is collecting signatures for a petition that will allow them to host a special election before the end of the semester. This comes after the disqualification of the Green Action Fee referendum during the March 2023 infraction hearing.
GAF is funded by the Green Action Fee, which is a student-paid fee of $5.68 for the fall and spring semesters and $2.65 for the summer semester. GAF will not have the chance to secure that funding for next year unless they can get signatures from 10% of their voting base, which is the amount required for them to host a special election.
This all began because the Election Commission ruled that GAF had been campaigning around a polling station, which is a violation of policy 4.e of the Allegations of Violations and Sanctions in the SGA election policy.
Senator of Sustainability Keenan Powell, Vice Chair of GAF MJ Johnson and other GAF representatives expressed their disappointment with how the hearings turned out during the April 13 senate meeting.
“We feel as though the infractions that have been given to us are punishments that far outweigh the crime … There was no opportunity to learn, and our ignorance of the election standards were met with persecution and prosecution to the full extent that the election policy would allow,” Powell said at the meeting.
Powell said in an email statement to The Scribe that he believes the situation could have been avoided had the Election Commission been more willing to communicate with GAF about the election policy. He noted that GAF often had to “decide on the fly” because of the lack of clarity from the bylaws.
“Those on the Election Commission had approached our table and instead of addressing the concerns then and there, they waited to submit an infraction notice days later. This whole process seems as though it was done to penalize GAF and the members on it, when it should have been an opportunity for communication and learning as we navigate the elections,” Powell said.
Johnson wrote via email that GAF did not get a “fair and just opportunity” in their hearing or appeal and believes the disqualification was based off “inflated charges.”
“The miscommunication trap surrounding polling stations and in the appeal laws that we fell into has nothing to do with us and we have more than proven that. This should not ever have resulted in a disqualification, and through the process of exposing those fatal flaws in policy and the execution thereof, we have been ignored,” she said.
According to Johnson, part of the injustice stems from an alleged conflict of interest regarding a romantic relationship between a complainant against GAF and a member of the judiciary who voted on the case.
“After observing other student testimonies in the appeal, I noticed that they had mentioned maltreatment toward them by these two students, which may be driving the vendetta against us, and could have certainly been leveraged in the proceedings,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that she asked Student Life how to file a good faith conflict of interest allegation against the two individuals prior to their appeal. She believes that this is what made the final decision on the disqualification of the GAF referendum.
“Student Life never responded, never explained their decision, and never acknowledged me except … to stand up for the two students involved in the conflict of interest,” Johnson said.
Chief Justice Zachary Terradez also made a statement during the senate meeting.
“I am proud of this commission’s understanding of free thought and encourage everyone to read through the past decisions that this commission has made. I can assure you they are not a result of groupthink or an ‘us versus them’ ideology,” Terradez said.
He also emphasized that this will be the first time UCCS has held a special election, which means there will be little precedent to go off of.
“The commission is working hard to address both past and present concerns and is working with qualified external counseling to guide us on this matter,” Terradez said.
GAF believes they could persist until the next election cycle by surviving off leftover funds if the fee does not pass in the special election.
“With that said, students should expect that we are here to stay, and we will continue to fund and support sustainability initiatives so long as we have our budget,” Powell said.
According to the Green Action Fund’s website, they have funded several sustainability-focused projects that can be found across campus through the Green Action Fee, including secure bike storage in Alpine Garage and the Clyde’s Cupboard Fresh Food Program.
Image of petition from www.aauw.org. Green Action Fund logo from gaf.uccs.edu.