ASI Board of Directors changes elections code


Eric Jaramishian - The State Hornet

Associated Students, Inc. President Mia Kagianas (left), Lisa Dalton (right) and Gina Curry examine the agena during the ASI meeting on Wednesday. The board voted to remove slates from future election cycles.

On Feb. 7, the Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors voted that slates will no longer be allowed in Sacramento State student government elections.

The ASI Board of Directors met to discuss a variety of topics, including the resolution — proposed by ASI President Mia Kagianas — to change the elections code by ending the use of slates.

Slates allowed students running for different positions to campaign together, especially if they knew each other and had similar policy ideas.

The change had been in discussion since October, when Kagianas and the ASI Elections Code Task Force began looking at how to deal with slates in the election process.

The board of directors reestablished the task force last summer to revisit the elections code and determine what changes needed to be addressed.

The task force is made up of administrators, ASI staff members and students.

One of the major topics discussed during the board of directors meeting was the use of slates.

The board discussed the possibility of allowing slates to be used while giving independent candidates a fair chance to run against a group of candidates running with each other, but ultimately decided to end the use of slates entirely.

“We came to realize that we were just going around the problem that slates have, which disempowers students who want to run as an independent — especially when it comes to finances, when people come from lower income backgrounds against people that might have a financial advantage,” said Kagianas.

The board said these disadvantages do not make students feel welcome to take the social risk of running for office.

The task force had concerns that getting rid of slates might decrease voter turnout, according to Kagianas.

However, ASI Executive Director Sandra Gallardo, who serves as a non-voting member of the board, said that states likely decreased voter turnout.

“There is the problem that slates make elections more divisive with an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ dynamic when more than one slate runs for office,” said Gallardo. “All of these factors in turn hurt student engagement and likely depress voter turnout. Eliminating slates will hopefully turn things around by encouraging students to run for office and become more engaged with Associated Students.”

Gallardo served on student government when she was in school and said that slates didn’t exist at the time.

“I believe (not having slates) increased student participation because there was no ‘drama’ surrounding running for office, and little to no money was needed to get the word out to your constituency,” Gallardo said. “If slates had been allowed, I would likely have been too intimidated to run for office and I would have lost out on a valuable and enriching life experience.”

When the resolution was proposed at the board meeting on Wednesday, it received positive feedback.

Members of the board went on to say that many students have stated slates do in fact create “barriers” to independent candidates, and that this resolution will help to bring down those barriers.

“It would be cool if we could take out slates, because they’re a powerhouse,” said Jet Haresco, the ASI director of business administration. “But I think there should be some support for students who do not have the self confidence to run by themselves”

The resolution passed with only one “no” vote.

“I feel really proud to be on this ASI this year,” Kagianas said. “They have made a historic move to remove slates, and I am proud that we are changing the institution to better serve our students.”  

Another change made to the elections code is the inclusion of tickets, so that candidates running for president and vice president can run together.

The rest of the rules are remaining the same. Any student can run, but they will have to fill out an application that is due by March 9 and attend two mandatory workshops.

Once they are approved to run, the candidates may begin campaigning on March 26.

Voting takes place on April 11 and 12, and the results are announced the following day. Each candidate has a spending limit of $350 to use during the campaign.

“I am really thankful that I have had the opportunity to make this change, and I am excited to see what this looks like for future boards,” Kagianas said.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that voting also takes place on April 12, and that students must attend two mandatory workshops and turn in their application by March 9 in order to be approved as a candidate.