Don’t ask questions

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Don’t ask questions

SG President Ayden Maher vetoed six fall ballot questions. Photo by Christine Capozziello

SG President Ayden Maher vetoed six fall ballot questions. Photo by Christine Capozziello

SG President Ayden Maher vetoed six fall ballot questions. Photo by Christine Capozziello

SG President Ayden Maher vetoed six fall ballot questions. Photo by Christine Capozziello

Chris Persaud

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SG President Ayden Maher vetoed six fall ballot questions. Photo by Christine Capozziello

Thanks to Student Government’s top man and a top university official, students won’t get to vote on their opinions on Sept. 13 and 14 about parking fines, campus marijuana policy, gay rights and online course registration.

In July, the Boca campus’ House of Representatives passed four bills to put six questions about those issues on the campus’ fall election ballot (see box).

In August, Student Body President Ayden Maher vetoed those bills.

Student Body VP Robert Huffman told House members Maher did it because he thought  the questions were a university-wide issue.

The Boca House votes on legislation that affects only its campus, while the Student Body Senate votes on legislation that affects all campuses. Therefore, Huffman said, Maher wanted the bills to go through the Senate.

The House overrode Maher’s veto, and the bills went to Vice President of Student Affairs, Charles Brown, who has the final say on SG legislation. SG is a department of Student Affairs, and Brown is the unelected administrator in charge of SA.

At the same time, the Senate passed three bills to put the questions about parking fines, gay rights and online course registration on all campus’ fall ballots. No marijuana bill was proposed.

Maher approved the bill about parking fines, but vetoed the rest. Brown vetoed the Senate’s parking bill and the House bills. There is no way to override Brown’s veto.

Maher told the UP that this time, he vetoed the bills because administration was already working on improving online course registration and adding sexual orientation to FAU’s anti-discrimination policy.

According to an email Maher received from FAU’s Chief Technology Officer Mehran Basiratmand, FAU will switch its email service from MyFAU to Gmail on Sept. 12, making MyFAU run faster. Basiratmand is FAU’s top computer technician.

As for sexual discrimination, Maher said “I vetoed it because SG isn’t in the business of writing [university] policy.”

He also thought it would be a “quagmire” if students voted against adding sexual orientation to university anti-discrimination policy, and it would “pit students against each other.”

Plus, he said FAU General Counsel David Kian sent an email saying administration will change the policy to include sexual orientation.  Maher said he’d share the email with the UP, but hasn’t as of press time.

At a Sept. 2 Boca House meeting, Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena spoke on behalf of Brown on why Brown vetoed the bills. He repeated Maher’s reasonings.

House Speaker Boris Bastidas disagreed. “I was here when Student Affairs said we should put a question on the ballot to say whether we should be a smoke-free campus, pitting smoking students against non-smoking students. So it seems like when they like the question … they use the results of the poll to justify changing the policy.”

The UP asked Brown what the consequences would be if the bills were passed. He said, “I asked the SG president to reconvene on this specific legislation based on the information I provided to him. It is my understanding they are moving forward in that regard.” He didn’t elaborate.

Mena said FAU’s Board of Trustees would vote on adding sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination policy at their next meeting. The BOT votes on university policy. Mena said there was no guarantee they would approve it.

He added that students with up to 20 grams of marijuana will no longer be permanently expelled from campus housing. Instead, they’ll be suspended from it for a year.

Bastidas said the House will bring up the questions in the spring, and they’d continue to be vetoed. “The [student body] president talked about making these university-wide, and he still vetoed it. And then Dr. Brown was talking about the same thing, and … He still vetoed it. Next they’ll have a new reason. I promise you.”

Bastidas said the House brought up the bills in spring.

Fall elections starts Sept. 13 at 12 a.m., and ends 11:59 p.m. on the 14.

The ballot box

Over the past two months, the Boca House of Representatives and Student Senate passed several bills that would have asked students’ opinions on things like gay rights and lowering parking fines. However, Student Body President Ayden Maher and Vice President of Student Affairs Charles Brown vetoed the bills. Maher is student government’s top official, while Brown is head of the Division of Student Affairs, which oversees SG. Here are the yes/no questions students would’ve voted on if the House and Senate bills passed:

1. Do you support the lowering of parking fines?

2. Do you support a warning system for parking citations in which a first violation would be cited without any fee charge?

3. Do you support the technology fee being used to improve servers for class registration?

4. Do you support changing FAU’s policy on Anti-Discrimination and Harassment to include sexual orientation as a protected class along with race, religion, and gender?

*5. Do you agree that the sanctions imposed by Florida Atlantic University for the use and possession of marijuana should be no greater than the sanctions imposed for the use and possession of alcohol?

*6. Should students face immediate suspension or removal from student housing for the use and possession of up to twenty grams of marijuana?

*These questions would only be on the Boca campus ballot if the bills passed.