Members of the Vote No Coalition, including Chynna Haas, Jenny Wustman and Jan Van Tol, right, celebrate their victory Tuesday night outside ASM\’s SAC offices.
Katherine Tondrowski, chair of the ASM student elections commission, mourns the loss Tuesday night in the government\’s new offices at the Student Activities Center.
The Associated Students of Madison’s proposal for a new constitution was shot down by a 61 percent student vote, effectively maintaining the current structure of the student government.
An ASM committee had been drafting the proposal for the past nine months in hopes of restructuring its current system. If passed, the constitution would have created an executive branch overseeing a 33-member senate.
Although the committee was not pleased with the election results, Jeff Wright, ASM constitutional committee chair, said the 15 percent voter turnout was a positive component, revealing unprecedented student interest in the structure of their student government.
“As we move forward, hopefully the last nine months have not been for naught,” Wright said. “I think we’ve engaged students to think about what student government should be looking like. I think these discussions are not over, and they will continue into the next session.”
Wright added ASM should have worked harder to better educate students about the checks and balances of the executive branch and to eliminate reservation among General Student Services Fund groups that feared a change in the organization’s structure would affect their funding.
Chynna Haas, a member of the Vote No Coalition, a coalition of student groups opposed to the constitution, said the result accurately represented the voice of the students.
“We mobilized students from all different backgrounds, and I think that’s a true testament to the issues with the document,” Haas said. “It also shows the power of having a second coalition getting all these groups to work together.”
Although students rejected a complete restructuring of ASM, Wright acknowledged that both Students for ASM Reform and the Vote No Coalition called for reform within the system.
The student government will continue to work to meet student needs by reworking bylaws and addressing smaller issues addressed by the Vote No Coalition for the remainder of the session, Wright added.
Allegations saying the Vote No Coalition violated campaigning laws may also initiate an appeal of the election results to the Student Judiciary, said ASM member Kurt Gosselin.
“There were allegations that they were dorm storming, though we don’t have any proof yet,” Gosselin said, referring to the illegal process of knocking on the doors of students and telling them to vote a certain way. “If there were to be a violation or something of the sort, we’d consider all our options to the course of action we’d pursue thereafter.”
ASM also has pictures of the Vote No Coalition violating an election rule prohibiting campaigning within 100 feet of a polling station, Gosselin said.
The pictures reveal violators with “Vote No” signs next to two computers or more within Gordon Commons and the Humanities Building.
Gosselin said the committee is encouraging students who have seen or heard anything regarding campaign violations to come forward.
Haas said she knows nothing about the claims.