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As you all know, the shit show that is ASUO Elections will take place immediately following our return from Spring Break. What you don’t know is that the shit has already hit the fan.

On the ballot, you will be asked if students should be able to vote directly on the funding– or defunding– of incidental fee programs.

You can imagine the subsequent upheaval among, well, us. And among the ASUO themselves.

Here’s what Former ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz has to say about this:

The constitutional amendment about students voting for direct fee allocations is potentially the most damaging attack on the constitution I have seen. It would mean the budget process means nothing. They would literally be able to have a vote to defund the daily emerald.

Yeah, or students could defund The Commentator. Let’s not hold them to it..

Sen. Rudin has already submitted a “Petition For Review” to the ASUO Constitution Court. He says:

If this ballot measure is allowed to stay on the ballot and gets passed, it will be a disaster of epic proportions for the ASUO. It would mark the end of viewpoint neutrality and the end of separation of powers.

Well here it is y’all, Sen. Ben Rudin’s petition. Pay close attention to #4 !!!!

1. Name of person against whom grievance is filed: N/A. Petition for review, not a grievance


2. Question presented for review: Whether the direct-funding ballot measure that proposes amending ASUO Constitution §15.5.2 to allow initiative funding complies with the ASUO Constitution


3. Constitutional provision relevent to the controversy:

ASUO Constitution §15.5.5: The proposed ballot measure must be consistent with the ASUO Constitution


ASUO Constitution §2.3: No agency or program shall make any rule or take any action abridging the privileges and immunities of any person or program under the Constitution and laws of the United States or the State of Oregon, or the rules of the University of Oregon, or the ASUO Constitution


Viewpoint neutrality, as handed down by the Supreme Court in the Southworth decision as an interpretation to U.S. Constitution Amendment I: When a university requires its students to pay fees to support the extracurricular speech of other students, all in the interest of open discussion, it may not prefer some viewpoints to others.[1]


“To the extent the referendum substitutes majority determinations for viewpoint neutrality, it would undermine the constitutional protection the program requires. The whole theory of viewpoint neutrality is that minority views are treated with the same respect as are majority views. Access to a public forum, for instance, does not depend upon majoritarian consent. That principle is controlling here”[2]


[A] university’s student association “violated the First Amendment by using an advisory student referendum to determine how to allocate funds from a mandatory student activity fee among student organizations.” According to the Amidon court, use of a student referendum reflecting the student body’s majority opinion has “no place in the funding allocation process, which requires that `minority views [be] treated with the same respect as majority views.'” Amidon, 508 F.3d at 102 (quoting Southworth I, 529 U.S. at 235).[3]


4. Statement of Facts:

1. On March 19, 2012, President Eckstein submitted a ballot measure to the Constitution Court that asks, “Should students be allowed to vote directly on funding levels for certain incidental-fee funded programs?“


2. On March 19, 2012, the ballot measure was approved by Con Court, without prejudice


The courts have been clear ever since Southworth that funding decisions for recognized student groups and advocacy organizations cannot be determined by a vote of the student body because it allows the majority of students to engage in viewpoint discrimination against minority views. The initiative by President Eckstein, if approved by the voters, will result in funding decisions being based on just that.


Furthermore, if this initiative is approve and implemented, it will force the elected branches to fund whatever the majority of voting students think should be funded and make impossible the elected branches ability to make funding decisions in a viewpoint neutral way. Funding an organization because the majority agrees with its viewpoint is viewpoint discrimination. If this initiative is approved, the elected branches will be force take actions that abridge the privileges and immunities of students at the University of Oregon, in violation of §2.3.


5. Remedy requested: Because this ballot measure enables viewpoint discrimination, it does not comply with the ASUO Constitution, so I am asking the Constitution Court order it removed from the ballot.


6. Exigent circumstances: Spring Break is coming up at the end of the week and elections are right after. This needs to be decided before elections.

[1] Bd. of Regents v. Southworth, 529 U.S. 217, 233 (U.S. 2000)

[2] Id. at 235.

[3] Christian Legal Society v. Eck, 625 F. Supp. 2d 1026, 1040 (D. Mont. 2008)


And for the record, the OC loves Senator Ben Rudin.


  1. Cooper says:

    Please refer to Chapter 9 of the Oregon Commentator book for more interesting ways you can use Southworth to defend viewpoint neutrality, re: Your own ass.

    Or just call Olly Ruff.

  2. This is the most blatant assault on the Constitution and Clark Document that I can remember. It undermines the very purpose and role of elected student government at the UO. I don’t know if this was Eckstein’s own idea or if it was handed down to him from the likes of McLain, Kallaway and Co, but I’m insulted that anyone who had even glanced at the ASUO Constitution would support this.

    Also, I’m expecting some hard core elections coverage from y’all.

  3. OC lurker says:

    No, yeah, this is fucked and definitely nowhere near allowed under Southworth. There’s a reason iGov got laughed out of legitimacy.

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