An independent investigation launched by UW-Milwaukee administration into the Student Association elections results are in, and it doesn’t look good for the SA: the investigation found that the election process is inherently unfair, citing structure which places the system of checks and balances in the hands of the ruling party.
Headed by UW-Whitewater administrators, the investigation was launched after numerous complaints surfaced during this semester’s SA election, during which the opposing party People of Change was kicked off the ballot. Consequently, the incumbent Allied Student Voice (ASV) party was the only represented party on the ballot.
According to the SA Election Report:
“Under the current system, appointment of the watchdog groups (SORC and IEC) lies predominantly with the SA President and Senate, who will likely always represent the party in power. Asking your own appointments from your own party to maintain accountability of a body is problematic. Additionally, since ASV is the party in power and most appointees are also members of ASV, any complaints against SA, SORC or IEC are being handled predominantly by members of that same party.”
(Underline included in original report.)
The Independent Election Commission (IEC), is supposed to oversee the election independently and fairly. SORC, the Senate Oversight and Rules Committee, is supposed to oversee internal SA investigations and recently expanded its oversight to legislation review. The report found that since SORC is a body appointed by those in power, “SORC seems an obstacle to fair and open government. The body … may simply choose to let oppositional legislation die there.”
Additionally, the report found the following facts:
- There is no adequate instruction provided on how individual students can run for SA office.
- The IEC Bylaws were not followed, going against the SA Constitution “to ensure participation in student governance.”
- Many concerns and inconsistencies exist in the governing SA Bylaws.
These Bylaws state that party forms for those wishing to participate in the SA election be made available during the end of the fall semester (December). However, they were not available until Feb. 12, a day after they were due. Consequently, the due date was extended to a mere six days, instead of the 52-day period mandated by the SA itself.
Later in the election process, the People of Change party was denied a spot on the ballot in part because it had not been approved by the SA Senate. While approval was on the agenda for the Feb. 17 meeting, that session did not meet quorum, meaning not enough senators were present to pass anything.
“The allegations that this was done purposely to deny the recognition of People of Change seem plausible,” reads the report.
More instances exemplifying the problematic SA election process are outlined in the report.
The report also found “scant direction to ensure a fair election free from undue influence” within the election Bylaws, which govern the election process; incumbent ASV fliers printed on SA printers; legislation requiring any communication with the SA advisor to go through the Executive Committee first, which is “in direct conflict with the purposes of an advisor” and the interests of some students to be more involved with the advisor; no systematic announcement and marketing of the “call for nominations” process; lack of proper record-keeping and tracking of legislation; and the perception of cancelled or halted meetings with the Vice Chancellor, an “impediment to healthy student-administration relationships.”
The report recommends the SA work on the following:
- Methods to make operations of the SA more transparent.
- Review the ability of the structure of the SA to police itself.
- Accountability for accurate records of SA actions and meetings.
Click here to see the redacted report.